Skip to content
Recruiting now.Explore navy careers

Record breaking navy sailor heads for home

27 June 2019
A Royal Navy Petty Officer (PO) based at Britannia Royal Naval College (BRNC) set sail for home on Monday 24 June in his latest solo sailing challenge.

PO Phil Slade aims to sail from the River Dart to the Channel Islands and back; a total of 200 nautical miles over five days in an open top Bosun dinghy measuring just 14 feet. 

His first stop is Guernsey, where he was born.  He’ll arrive there on Tuesday 25 June and after a fund-raiser laid on by the Guernsey Yacht Club, will set sail again the following day for a seven-hour trip to Jersey. 

PO Slade then intends to leave Jersey on Thursday 27 June, after another fund-raiser in the Jersey Yacht Club, to head back to Dartmouth arriving 24 hours later on Friday 28 June.  He will be raising money for the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity.

Being in a small boat by yourself is sobering

PO Phil Slade

The 34-year-said: “I’ve calculated everything over a planning speed of four knots so it will take me approximately 20 hours to get to Guernsey; so that’s 20 hours without sleep and not being able to let go of the accelerator or the steering or I’ll fall over and capsize.”

A keen sailor, PO Slade completed his first Bosun sailing challenge in 2016, when he completed a world-record breaking non-stop trip from Plymouth to Portsmouth via the French coast. 

In 2017 PO Slade beat this record by sailing non-stop from Plymouth to Holyhead.

This trip will take PO Slade across the main shipping lanes, which he admits can be daunting.  He said:  “Scary is definitely a word to use. 

“If it’s quiet, which it can be, it’ll be alright.  I’ll be trying to get as far away from the traffic as I can, so if I do come across any large tankers or ships it’ll be on the spot manoeuvres and decisions.”

“Being in a small boat by yourself is sobering.” He added: “When you are sailing at night, you can’t really see much around you, but you see the white horse of a wave cresting the height of a two-storey building just behind you. 

“Your depth perception is all messed up and you can’t really see how far it is away from you and the next thing you know you are just riding over it. 

“You realise just how small you are, but you can’t replicate putting your hand in the water just beside you and watching the phosphorescent algae glowing around it.”  

PO Slade will be accompanied on his latest venture by two yachts from BRNC crewed by 10 Officer Cadets taking part in some adventurous training.

He said:  “They’ll be giving me some moral encouragement.  It’s an experience for them as well and I’m trying to give them the inspiration to push themselves in the future.”

To prepare for this latest challenge PO Slade has been getting some hours of training in on the River Dart.

He said:  “Training is difficult – nothing prepares your body for what’s to come with regard to sleep deprivation and just eating snacks.  I’ve also had to make sure I’m up to date with my shipping knowledge etc.”

PO Slade joined the Royal Navy in 2003 and has served at sea on board minehunters and frigates and ashore with 30 Commando Royal Marines in Plymouth.  At BRNC he is one of the instructors responsible for teaching the Officer Cadets seamanship skills.

He said:  “I’ve always been into sailing.  Being born on Guernsey the sea has always been there and before I joined the Royal Navy I had a job at a boat-builders and we did sailing from there. 

“Joining the Service was an aspiration from a fairly young age.  My love of the sea, boats and everything led into the Royal Navy and from there being in the Service has enabled me to continue sailing.”

Anyone wishing to show their support for PO Slade can do so online at:

Related articles

Navy News Magazine

We bring you the latest news, features and award-winning photographs from the front-line. Navy News has been reporting on all that happens in the Royal Navy and its wider community since 1954.