Boaty McBoatface will set sail from Southampton for the Olympics today (July 19) thanks to Hampshire-based charity Sailors’ Society and vessel tracking website MarineTraffic.
It is hoped that Boaty’s long journey to the opening ceremony in Rio on 5 August will raise awareness about the sacrifices seafarers make.
Stuart Rivers, Sailors’ Society’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “Although there is a fun element to Boaty, the message behind it is a more serious one. Seafarers make huge sacrifices; seeing the distance Boaty travels from Southampton to Rio will highlight how they can face isolation.”
The vessel will drop anchor to watch the start of the sailing events in Guanabara Bay before travelling to ports in Brazil where the charity has a chaplaincy presence.
Sailors’ Society’s nine Brazilian port chaplains provide spiritual, practical and emotional support and last year reached more than 35,000 seafarers.
“Seafarers often spend nine months away from home and our chaplains help to connect them with loved ones. One of our chaplains in Rio recently gave a seafarer Wi-Fi access which enabled him to see his baby for the first time,” added Stuart.
Sailors’ Society next month launches its own coffee brand, with one of the first BySea blends coming from Brazil.
Having visited the Society’s Brazilian chaplains, and seen where the coffee beans come from, Boaty will head for the Scottish port of Leith for World Maritime Day on 29 September.
Sailors’ Society is encouraging people to track Boaty’s progress on www.marinetraffic.com or via its Wellness at Sea app, which can be downloaded for free on the Google Play and Apple stores.