- Amphibious jeep, the Half Safe, passing the statue of liberty in 1948. © Public domain

Around the world by amphibious Jeep

1w ago


I remember a conversation with my mechanic once while he worked on my Beetle. "You know this things can be made to run on water." I laughed off his comment but a search on Youtube revealed that my Beetle could indeed be made amphibious.

Having already driven Pedro the Baja Bug (see the garage section of my profile) from the UK to Singapore I got to wondering if a full circumnavigation of the globe might be possible. To drive all around the world in one vehicle. I decided that theoretically at least it was doable, if the Beetle could be made buoyant enough it would bob around in high seas like a cork. Lack of funds means that particular dream is unlikely ever to become a reality. Besides part of the lure was to be the first person to undertake such a journey and I've since discovered it has actually been done before, by an Australian man named Ben Carlin.

Elinore and Ben Carlin © public domain

His vehicle of choice was a modified Ford GPA Jeep. The GPA was essentially a Jeep with a boat shaped underside. Carlin built a cabin and began testing his vehicle in 1947. It wasn't until 3 years, and 5 failed attempts, later that he and Elinore finally set sail. Neither could have anticipated the 10 years the journey would take! After 6 years battling hurricanes, uncharted desert, jungles and a difficult, obsessed husband, Elinore called it quits. Barry Hanley joined Ben from Burma to Japan and for the final leg of his journey across the pacific he was joined by Boyé Lafayette de Mente, an American journalist for the Japan Times. He finally arrived back at his start point in Montreal on the 13th May 1958, 10 years after he first set sail on his quest.

Ben hoped his journey would bring him fame and fortune but the 10 year duration meant that the press had all but lost interest. Only now, 60 years on, has his story been published. I was lucky enough to meet Ben's daughter Deirdre last year. She and Author, Gordon Bass, were showing old newsreel footage of Ben's journey at the Adventure Travel Film Festival. I must confess to being a little jealous that someone had already completed my dream, but also excited to know that it is an achievable dream. I went away with a copy of Gordon's Book "The Last Great Australian Adventurer" which is a fascinating account of the journey, I would encourage you to pick up a copy. Of course I'm treating it as a research document, should I ever take up the challenge!


#adventure #adventuretravel #amphibiousjeep #jeep #roundtheworld #overlanding #offroad