Intrepid British Farmer Steve Burgess takes his Defender across the Bering Strait…but has this been done before?
This is the third in our series on Steve Burgess, the 56-year-old farmer from the UK who woke up one day with the notion to drive – and sail – his beloved Defender around the world. (See “Driving A Land Rover Around The World – Literally! Posted 1/18.)
As of this writing, we’ve learned that Steve and his partner Dan Evans have made the final part of their 10,379 mile voyage by sailing their Defender across 56 miles of frigid arctic water called the Bering Strait, from Russia to Alaska. And it only took them 18 hours and 50 minutes, which really isn’t bad when you consider they had to duck out of some nasty weather on tiny Little Diomede Island part of the way across!
The vehicle – a 2007 Defender 110 - was the latest vehicle in a development process that began back in 2004. Two giant flotation devices were fitted to each side of the SUV, which had been stripped down to the bare essentials to decrease weight. In a design similar to Richard Hammond's amphibious Van, a propeller was attached to the Land Rover's drivetrain to push the vehicle through the water.
Land Rover must have at one time anticipated this type of behavior from its rabidly enthusiastic customers, as it built two dozen "airbag amphibians" back in 1962. The kit (seen above), had a PTO-driven propeller and used the wheels as rudimentary rudders. It never became a factory option, however, but it does beg the question: could there have been other such farmer fantasies realized that went unreported back before the World Wide Web?
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