I was talking to my class yesterday about the discomforts of travel, which are numerous and for the most part trivial. For obvious reasons we did not consider what it might be like to circumnavigate the globe for 8 years in an 18 foot (5.5 metre) boat, and in fact there is no need, for we have the first hand testimony of Shane Acton, a Cambridge native and ex-Marine, who in 1972 bought himself a second-hand bilge-keeled sailing boat called Super Shrimp for £400, and with almost no practical experience set off to sail around the world.
Acton set of on his epic journey from Cambridge, puttering down the Cam, on to the Ouse, and out to sea. By 1974 he had reached Panama (see a Google map charting his circumnavigation here), where he met Iris Derungs, a Swiss photographer, who became his girlfriend and accompanied him on the rest of his journey. Their progress was slow and peppered with tales of shipwreck and sharks, and, according to the Cambridge News, buried treasure. I cannot verify any of that, but one way or another the pair worked their way into the national consciousness throughout the 1970s (a good decade, on the whole, to spend on the sea); and in 1980 they returned to what the Cambridge News refer to as a heroes’ welcome, sailing up the Cam at the head of a flotilla of boats to a champagne reception at the Fort St. George where he had spent a good deal of time planning his voyage.
You can see a picture of Shane and Iris sailing into Cambridge here. And here is a short snippet of an identical boat in 2008 on the Solent, to give a snapshot of its size.