Just make sure I'm around when you've finally got something to say.--Toad the Wet Sprocket

Thursday, February 2, 2017

The Jeep Boat That Took a Trip Around the World

The Half-Safe when she set out
The Half-Safe after the London repairs

The Jeep that can also travel on water is known as a SEEP.  It has a fourteen-foot-long rudder and can cross rivers and waterways.  However, it's design flaw made it unstable so the military discontinued its use after World War II.

Ben Carlin, a forty-two-year-old Western Australian, while still in the military sees one in March of 1946 and becomes obsessed with them.  After he is discharged from the military he goes home to his wife, Elinor, with a, what would seem to most people, a hair brained scheme. He wants to take one of the SEEPs and travel around the world in it and he wants her to go with him.  She's unsure about this, but she wants to support him.

It takes four years to make the SEEP ocean worthy and to add a enclose it making a kind of cabin and add a sail.  He christens it the Half-Safe, which would prove to be prophetic.  Also, he added spare parts and equipment to take with them. After 32 days at sea, they made landfall at Flores, Azores. Then they went from the Azores to Madiera which was supposed to take no more than ten days but instead took twenty-three due to a hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean that they barely survived. From Madiera, they went to Cape Judy, Africa and then drove it to England where they spent the next two and a half years doing repairs on it.  They would then leave for a drive across Europe on May 30, 1954.

Over the next two years they would drive through Europe then they would go to Pakistan, Iran, and Turkey. They even made a side trip to Australia with the Half-Safe being taken on a steamer before returning to India.  While in India Elinor decides that she has had enough and wants to go home. But Ben refuses to give up on his quest and goes on with a series of shipmates.

He was forced to get to the southern part of Burma by sea, likely because he didn't have permission to be in the country.  In his journals, he describes his travels in Burma as being as bad as crossing the Atlantic during the hurricane.  He made it through southeast Asia across the land until he sailed to Japan where there were some delays. He left for the Aleutians on April 12, 1957.

After jumping from island to island in the Northen Pacific, he landed in Anchorage, Alaska on Septemeber 2 and from there he drove straight to on across to Canada with a side trip through the United States.   He finally arrives in Montreal, Canada on May 12, 1958, after traveling 9,600 miles over water and 39,000 miles over land and sets a world record for travel in an amphibious vehicle.

The other half owner of the Half-Safe was an American named George Calimer. After the trip the Half-Safe stayed in the U.S. and Calimer would take her out for the occasional rally.  In 1981 when Ben Carlin died of a heart attack in Perth his local school, Guildford Grammar School purchased Calimer's shares and had the Half-Safe shipped to Perth to put on permanent display at the school.