GPS Guided Trans-Atlantic Robot Boat
whoever snatched Snoopy had 'bottle' :-) Snoopy the Viking will try to sail the Atlantic again, from UK to USA, in his 4ft/1.2m long robot boat. The "Microtransat Challenge" is a French idea.
Snoopy's "sea rescuers" : See Latest News and the I-GotU track. French Commandos Marine ? Royal Marines ? Beers ? Email Robin via Contact page :-) RM LCU on horizon.

Snoopy robot boat to cross Atlantic from UK to USA romana czech arabic Russian Hindi Polish
Cliquez sur le drapeau français ci-dessus si vous préférez grenouilles et les escargots à Roast Beef :-)

PRESS: Please see "latest news" below, before you 'phone me. If you do contact me, please mention "6th September" so I know that you have :-)
See the Snoopy Press Release. Demonstrations at Bray Lake are available, while we wait for that Atlantic "weather window".

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Snoopy's GPS Guided Trans-Atlantic Robot Boat

This "Snoopy" page updated 1030 BST (0930 GMT) Sunday 6th September 2015 UK time.

Contents of this page (click on a link to skip to that section) :

Snoopy the Viking on Snoopy Sloop robot boat

An important message to Americans, from Snoopy the Viking ...

USA Flag UK Flag "Hi Guys ! I've lived so many years in Europe, I hope you don't think that I have "gone native". These clothes were given me by McDonalds, when they gave out clones of me around the World, and they are appropriate: Vikings were the first to reach American shores, long before the French or British. I'm looking forward to coming back home to my mother-land of USA, if and when that idiot Robin succeeds in making me a suitable boat. Sorry about his insistence in our boats flying the British Flag: I'm sure he is only doing it to annoy you. I often hear him muttering, 'we should never have worn red, and marched in a straight line'! I hope to see you soon: I will give you plenty of warning !"

1. Introduction by Robin ...

Robin I set up this page in early 2008, when I started this crazy hobby project: developing a small robot boat, capable of sailing itself across the Atlantic, from UK to USA. If you want to know more about me, our family, or my earlier defence systems career, then GPS software business, you can start by clicking on my picture on the left, or here. I'm Robin Lovelock, and the Press have described me as a "retired NATO scientist". My wife June says that I retired much more than ten years ago !

The French boat from Team ENSTA Bretagne. Click here for 2012 event. After browsing this page and others, you can form your own opinion on myself and this rather challenging project. My local friend John told me about the friendly Microtransat international competition, and I was soon hooked. It was Yves Briere in France, who first suggested the idea in 2004, at a conference. Their early attempts fired my enthusiasm. That's a French boat on the right and at the very top of this page. Below that is the 2014 American boat. Click on these pictures for the 2012 and 2014 teams - all with small boats. From there you can go to other Microtransat pages, maintained by Aberystwyth University in UK. Their web site has been the focus for this activity since 2005, after Dr Mark Neal, at the University, and Yves, conceived the "Microtransat Challenge". Their site includes the rules, teams "competing", and tracking of their robot boats. Over the years, several teams have tried, but all these heroic attempts only survived a few days or a few hundred miles. A journalist pointed out to me, in 2012, that Snoopy had already sailed over 5,000 miles, during our reliability testing of him on Bray Lake in 2012. Snoopy has done a lot more sailing since then, and that's why I am confident Snoopy has as much chance as the other teams ! :-)

The United States Naval Academy boat. Click here for 2014 event. You will find links below to more detailed pages, amusing TV broadcasts, newspaper articles, and home videos, of Snoopy's attempts on the Atlantic since November 2012. crazy surfy Watch our attempts to "beat the surf" in March 2013: now we know how to do it - with Magic Seaweed ! Later in 2013, and in 2014, Snoopy made Atlantic attempts, but these ended up on the Isle of Wight, with the same boat being rescued by Dick, with little damage. The Attempt on 30th November 2014, was better: Snoopy got as far as Weymouth, but crash landed near Portland Bill - undamaged. The same boat tried again in March 2015, and this was the best attempt yet - and the most interesting of all. Who did that "rescue at sea" ? Snoopy's very first attempt was in 2012, and that was, until 2015, the most mysterious story of all - we never did find where he went, after visiting that military bunker :-)

I give this page a "tidy-up" when I can, moving material onto other linked pages. Over the years I've found it valuable, despite it's limitations, to save everybody's time, when chatting to me directly: I am a very slow email typer ! These pages should be of help to all in contact with me, including journalists and friends helping, both near me in UK, and in far off countries. Many of my friends now providing invaluable help, first made contact with me after seeing the BBC TV South broadcast, or a Newspaper article. Thank you everybody ! :-)

"PLEASE DO NOT TOUCH SNOOPY - it may disqualify him",

Snoopy's first Atlantic Attempt was in 2012 ...
BBC TV South broadcast of launch, reported by Ben Moore, BBC Reporter

Play the BBC November 2012 video of Snoopy's launch on BBC TV South News with Robin getting soaked. Then family video of Snoopy's 2012 launch with BBC reporters too :-)
Play the June 2014 video of Snoopy's Robot Boat for 2014 and 2015 Microtransat Challenge for the big picture. e.g. details of this year's boat and lessons learned.
Robin and June enjoyed their weekend on the Isle of Wight. Play the 4 minute Cowes Week 2015 video. See updated 2012 Search and GPSS on water pages. Snoopy's friend, the French Frog

Snoopy's last Atlantic Attempt was this year ... Snoopy launched from Boscombe on 18th March... SPOT tracker stopped on 27th... Landed at Brighton on 30th ! :-)
Atlantic Attempt March 2015

white strip

2. Latest News on Snoopy's attempt to cross the Atlantic ...

Snoopy Found at Brighton Snoopy ready to try again in 2015 Snoopy will attempt the Atlantic again, probably in early 2016, when our Team is ready, and we get our "weather window". It did not take long to get Snoopy's boat ready, including changing all the solar panels for new ones, a new rudder servo, a coat of Trilux anti-fouling paint, and a new flag. The rudder servo is more reliable than we thought: see the end of the BlogX page. But we changed the servo to be sure ! Click on the pictures, on left (at Brighton) and right (latest), to see bigger ones.

You can all look at the pictures below, from that I-GotU track, and speculate on the reason Snoopy turned up at Brighton, as he did. The strong wind from West-Nor-West meant we expected Snoopy to eventually hit the French coast - not England !

Here are some questions to answer, by looking more closely at Snoopy's path, recorded by the I-GotU GPS logger:
1. Why and When did Snoopy's boat system fail ? e.g. loss of power from solar panels ? e.g. Saturday 21st March ?
2. Where (i.e. When) did the "sea rescue" start ? e.g. Saturday 28th March ? Who ? e.g. Cockleshell heros ? :-)

Robin has always been confident, after seeing the I-GotU track, that a "sea rescue" was done. Also, that it was done using a slow boat, without power, such as a kayak or inflatable dingy. That picture on the left shows that someone, at sea, had moved the string that ties the mainsail - a "message" from someone ? But who would have the "bottle", to do this in heavy seas and darkness ? Why would they not have contacted us, after so much effort and risk ? Could it have been the Royal Marines ? Or maybe the French "Commandos Marine", or American "Seals" ?
Maybe Snoopy's "sea rescuers" can now claim credit, and a few beers ? If so, please email - on Robin's Contact page :-)

Snoopy's track of hourly reports from the SPOT tracker is below. That on the right is from the I-GotU GPS Logger, every 12 minutes, until Snoopy's landing at Brighton on Monday 30th. That's not the normal pattern resulting from wind and tide, particularly just before Brighton. Did anyone see Snoopy, or kayaks, when he crossed those shipping lanes south of Portsmouth, early Sunday afternoon ? Photos ? Play the 8 minute Youtube video of Snoopy's March 2015 Atlantic Attempt. More detail is below.

SPOT track of Snoopy's Atlantic Attempt March 2015

After his launch on Wednesday, 18th March, Snoopy made slow but steady progress, along his planned route, despite light wind and strong tidal current.

Snoopy Found at Brighton Snoopy's landing at Brighton on 30th March 2015 After 10 days of sailing, Snoopy's SPOT tracker failed - due to flat batteries - probably due to a failure in the solar panel wiring. The strong wind from West-Nor-West meant we expected Snoopy to eventually hit the French coast, before Calais, or carry on towards Belgium and Holland, as those GPS bottles had, years earlier.

But, a few days later, Snoopy appeared on Brighton Beach ! Here he is, with Ben Hartrey, Manager of The Coalition Nightclub. Click on the picture for a bigger one, that shows that the mainsail "sheet" (string) had been unscrewed, then screwed back in front of the mast. A message from Snoopy's "sea rescuer" ? :-) Click on the I-GotU track on the right, for a bigger one. It shows that "interesting path" before Snoopy hit the beach. Wind was strong and from the West-Nor-West.

Click on Snoopy's March 2015 Atlantic Attempt for the full day-by-day story in pictures, including Snoopy's track. To view this complete track on Google Earth, click on RBAA15A.KML. What do you think ? :-)

This tough little boat had already survived two crash landings on the Isle of Wight, in 2013 and 2014 attempts, and last year's crash near Portland Bill. Check out the pictures and videos, of our hero Dick, who did these rescues, before Robin could stop him. You will enjoy the launch videos, from all the attempts, starting with that filmed by the BBC in 2012, but covered well every year since then.

Snoopy tends to sail at about 10% of the wind speed, so that's about 1 mph/knots if the wind is 10 mph/knots. The tide is more than 2 knots at it's maximum speed - but the good thing is that the tide does change direction every 6 hours !

See Snoopy's route out of UK waters below, under "3. Snoopy's route ... ". Waypoints were adjusted to reduce risks of hitting land, or fishing areas, even if strong wind blows him off course.

Snoopy is now safely at home, in Sunninghill, and repairs have been made at a relaxed pace, towards another Atlantic attempt later in 2015 or 2016.

click here for the design of Snoop Sloop Click here for latest SPOT map We now launch Snoopy from west of Boscombe Pier.

You can click on Snoopy's SPOT Map or the picture on the right, to see where Snoopy is now. The detail of Snoopy's preperation for each attempt, including repairs, modifications, and testing, is in the current Blog.

We watch MagicSeaweed for FLAT surf, an off-shore wind, and no rain. We also watch Winds Expected. Snoopy needs a day with suitable conditions for launch, to sail south to about 15 miles off the coast, before heading west, along the English Channel, and into the Atlantic. Ideally, we want close to a week of following wind, from the East or North, rather than from West or South. This is our "Plan A".

For those interested, see "Summary of design used in 2012, 2013 and 2014 boats ...", near the front of the Design page. While Snoopy's Boat10 waits for the "launch window", we can still experiment with Boat11, or other solutions for 2015. See the new BlogX page. Snoopy's launch window The Q&A page discusses the effect of a strong tidal flow on robot sailing boats. We have a Tide Page, as an aid to understanding the best launch time, on a particular day. e.g. three hours ahead of Portsmouth High Water.

Might we beat the waves with a "Plan B" ? A different launch spot, such as near Sandbanks Beach Cafe , might get around a problem with wind direction, but what if the waves are big ? crazy surfy To appreciate our problem, if we don't have those FLAT surf conditions, simply look at our March 2013 Atlantic Attempts page, and play the March 2013 video. Volunteers are welcome, if you are not putting anyone's lives at risk: we don't mind you getting wet :-)

Snoopy's SPOT Map will show where Snoopy is now. This might be at Bray Lake, at home in Sunninghill, on the way down to the coast - or at sea, on his way to the USA. Click on the map on the left, to see the detail.

Sunninghill to Boscombe Pier Windmill Boat Before making an Atlantic attempt, Snoopy has several weeks of "24/7 tests", to ensure all the boat is reliable. Snoopy sailed over 5,000 miles on Bray Lake in 2012, and has sailed a lot further since then ! If the wind drops to below about 1mph - as often happens at night - Snoopy "goes for a wander". If he gets stuck near the shore, Robin goes over to push Snoopy out again.

Play the 1 minute Video of Snoopy's Cat' (catamaran). Next year's boat ? That's Snoopy on the right, watching Telly, sat on his Windmill Boat :-)

Want to cheer Snoopy on from Boscombe ? Be prepared to sing "Rule Britania!", and bring a Union Jack flag to wave :-)

3. Snoopy's route ... How long will it take ?

typical robot boat route from UK to USA This is all academic if Snoopy only survives a few minutes, hours, or even days, but here is my best guess on how long it might take to travel the 5300 miles to the USA. Maybe he might sail at up to 2 mph - if he gets away from the UK shore. The wind needs to be kind on that difficult stretch west, to the Microtransat Start Line. When the wind changes to it's normal direction, from the south-west, it will be VERY slow ! I don't think he would get blown backwards, when trying to sail directly into the wind, but progress would probably average less than 0.1 mph ! I'll keep this section updated, after we launch, and while we are able to track Snoopy, to see how well he progresses, and at what speed, the latest wind predictions, etc.

  • Snoopy driven from Sunninghill to launch spot. e.g. Boscombe. Takes about 1.5 hours. Launch within 2 hours of leaving home ? 1.75 hours again.
  • Launch from UK shore and head about 17 miles south to Snoopy's "Channel" waypoint. 12 hours @ ~ 1.5 mph average ? ~ 0940 on 19th = ~22.6 hours - hindered by tide !
  • Channel to Weymouth Waypoint: ~ 38 miles @ 1.5 mph = + 25 hours ?
  • Weymouth to Prawle Waypoint: ~ 64 miles @ 1.5 mph = + 43 hours ?
  • Prawle to Lizard Waypoint: ~ 80 miles @ 1.5 mph = + 53 hours ? = ~ 7 days ?
  • Lizard to Microtransat Start Line: ~ 326 miles @ 1.5 mph = + 9 days = ~ 16 days ?
  • Microtransat Start Line to waypoint east of The Azores is about 1000 miles @ 1.5 mph = ~ + 4 weeks = > 6 weeks ?
  • Azores then 2360 miles west, towards the Microtransat Finish line, at 60W near the Bahamas. + 10 weeks = ~ 16 weeks ?
  • Microtransat Finish Line at 24 30'N 60 00'W. Then head towards the USA east coast: maybe 1400 miles. + 6 weeks ? = 22 weeks / 6 months ?
  • USA Landing 6 to 8 months after launch ? Before 1st April 2016 ? :-)

2015 waypoints 2015 waypoints on Marine Traffic As mentioned earlier, Snoopy may only survive a few minutes or hours, but if he DOES reach that first "Channel" waypoint, about 15 miles due south from Barton-on-Sea, this is where he plans to sail next. Click on the maps to see the detail.

After the last 2014 attempt, the waypoints have been modified, based on information on marine traffic, to avoid intensive fishing areas. Snoopy's autopilot software had little change since January 2013, and was programmed to head for a position on what was the old Microtransat Start Line, at 7.5 degrees West. The new Start Line is further west. Snoopy's route from UK to Start Line The intermediate waypoints, south of Weymouth, Prawle, and The Lizard, are intended to reduce the risk of Snoopy "bumping into the shore" due to inaccuracy of keeping his course.

If Snoopy succeeds in eventually crossing the Microtransat Start Line, he should then head south west, to his next waypoint east of The Azores. From there, he should aim for the Microtransat Finish Line, at Longitude 60W. In the unlikely event that Snoopy gets this far, Robin will publish more detail on the route ahead: there seems little risk of that ! :-)

4. Robin thanks his friends ...

Snoopy says bye-bye to Bray Lake staff
  • All staff at Bray Lake Watersports for use of the lake, numerous rescue missions and coffees. Here they say bye-bye to Snoopy.
  • local friend John who started Robin off, provided the team name, and has supplied numerous original ideas. See Team-Joker.
  • local friend Dick Bailey, working closely with Robin, who has rescued Snoopy many times, at his own time and expense.
  • Peter Facey , the photographer, for searching for Snoopy in 2012, and for help with mapping and analysis.
  • the Intelligent Robotics Group at Aberystwyth University, Wales, for organising Microtransat and their own heroic attempts.
  • Yves and the French Teams for first suggesting The Microtransat Challenge years ago, and their repeated heroic attempts.
  • Christophe Thirache in Canada, for help including processing of data for analysis of Snoopy's tracks and GPS simulation.
  • local friend Eric, for supply of Snoopy Sloop 4, and our best videos. See Eric's other videos here.
  • local friend Gary, the Master Car Mechanic , for donating Snoopy Sloops 1 and 2, when Robin started all this in 2008.
  • my old friend Klaus in Germany, who in 2008, suggested use of SPOT to me and Microtransat Teams. Also for his interfacing card.
  • Those in the Press who've gone "beyond the call of duty" including for last year's BBC GPS Bottles project.
  • The nice chap at the National Trust who called back with information about the military bunker where Snoopy landed.
  • The nice lady who is Custodian of the Needles Battery . She has tweeted this, after checking with Robin:
    "Can you help Robin find Robot boat Snoopy? See if you can help. Last seen near The Needles."
    Robin, despite his name, cannot Tweet. Please take care what you tweet, so as not to encourage others to take risks.
  • Chris at the UKHO ( UK Hydrographic Office ) for detailed tidal data, indicating "human-intervention" with Snoopy in 2012 :-)
  • My long-suffering wife, June, and all those that I've yet to thank here :-)

Snoopy with many friends on Bray Lake

5. History of Snoopy's attempt to cross the Atlantic ...

5.1 the early years of experiment, from 2008 until 2011 ....

See the introduction in the Experimental Blog Page then detail of ...the early years, from 2008 to 2010 for how we started. Then see near the end of ...from 2011 to 2012
Snoopy-Sloop 9 is the latest robot boat
In brief: we started with small, prototypes, and a Pocket PC - Wind Vane based autopilot. We eventualy reached our design: Picaxe GPS-Only Autopilot, on a 4ft/1.2m long boat.

5.2 November 2012 Atlantic Attempt ....

See Snoopy's 2012 Attempt to cross The Atlantic for the story from 2012, after he was launched on Tuesday 27th November.
Snoopy's 2012 attempt on Tuesday 27th November
In brief: Snoopy sailed straight towards his destination, despite a strong sideways tide. Then he moved AGAINST the tide ! He then landed on the steps of an old military bunker !

5.3 March 2013 Atlantic Attempts ...

See the page March 2013 Atlantic Attempts for the stories, pictures and videos of us fighting the surf ... Snoopy's attempt on 30th March 2013 - yes ! In brief: Snoopy tried, but failed to get away from the beach, in waves that were bigger than on his 2012 attempt. He went home, to sail another day - in calmer conditions ! :-)

5.4 October 2013 Atlantic Attempt ...

See the page October 2013 Atlantic Attempt for the full story. October 2013 Atlantic Attempt In brief: Snoopy launched at 1215pm Friday 11th, wandered, landed about 3am Saturday, was rescued at 8am. Faulty rudder linkage ?

5.5 September 2014 Atlantic Attempt ...

See the September 2014 Atlantic Attempt Page for the full story in pictures, and the 7 minute video.

September 2014 Atlantic Attempt In brief: Snoopy launched at 0850 Saturday 6th in little wind, wandered, landed Sunday morning and rescued. Not enough wind ? Need a launch spot further west ?

5.6 Aborted November 2014 Atlantic Attempt ...

See the Aborted November 2014 Atlantic Attempt Page for the full story in pictures, and the 5 minute video.

Atlantic Attempt 23 November 2014 map In brief: Snoopy launched at 0830 Sunday 23rd from new spot near Bournemouth: he simply sailed parallel to the beach, due to a software bug, now fixed.

5.7 Good November 2014 Atlantic Attempt ...

See the Good November 2014 Atlantic Attempt Page for the full story in pictures.

Atlantic Attempt 23 November 2014 map In brief: Snoopy launched at 1045 Sunday 30th November from Boscombe Pier. Crash landed on rocks at Portland on Tuesday night. Rescued by Dick almost undamaged.

5.8 March 2015 Atlantic Attempt ...

Snoopy launched at 1100 Wednesday 18th March from Boscombe Pier. Landed in Brighton ! :-) See March 2015 Atlantic Attempt for the full story in pictures and the video.

Atlantic Attempt March 2015 Atlantic Attempt March 2015

In brief: After a few days, the solar power failed, and the boat drifted. Then the SPOT tracker stopped. Ended in Brighton after a "covert rescue" ? :-)

6. Design, Construction, and Testing of Snoopy's robot boats ...

See the "Design" Page for the design and construction of Snoopy's robot boats. This includes details of the boats themselves, built from standard model boat parts, but with the hulls filled with foam and strengthened sails. It also includes detail of the electronics, including autopilot, it's software, and the tracking system. Details of testing, including GPS Plots of the "Bray Lake Test", and reports of 24/7 testing and repairs, are in the "Blogs", reached from the current Blog Page.

design construction and testing of Snoopy's robot boats

7. Useful links ...

See Snoopy's First Attempt to cross The Atlantic in 2012, in March 2013 in the surf , October 2013, September 2014, Aborted then Good 2014 Attempt and Last in March 2015.
Play the June 2014 video of Snoopy's Robot Boat for Microtransat for the "big picture". e.g. details of the 2014 (and 2015) boat, and lessons learned.
See The Microtransat Challenge maintained by Aberystwyth University in UK, for Microtransat competition details, including rules and the other teams.
See our Q&A (Questions & Answers) page. e.g. Do you understand the tide ? See old GPS bottles in the sea , drifting with wind and tide.
See Robin's old "on water" page - not updated for over 14 years - until recently, with detail of the 1998 round-the-World race and old pictures.
For Snoopy's next attempt, see for when surf will be FLAT, Winds expected for an offshore wind, and Boscombe Webcam for a live picture.
See for other shipping near Snoopy. See UK Winds , Sailflow Winds , Met Office Rain & Wind, World Sea conditions , Temperatures and Sunshine.
See the Design page for details of Snoopy's 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 boats, built for the Atlantic Attempts, and SPOT communications coverage map.
See the Blog1, Blog2, Blog3, Blog4, and Current Blog pages for progress in tests, repairs, etc, to prepare for each attempt. click here for a high res. copy of this picture
of Snoopy's new boat, taken on 21 March 2013.
See the BlogX page for experimental work, including Compass and techical stuff such as Software - and even Snoopy's Paint !
See the Picaxe Forum Thread for the history, since August 2009, of Snoopy's Picaxe Autopilot Software - where Robin's got advice.
See Snoopy's Windmill boat and play the Windmill Boat video - for what may appear in later years ? :-)
See Robin's Snoopy Sloop robot boat - progress in 2011 and 2012 for detail removed from this front page.
See Robin's Snoopy Sloop robot boat - the early years, from 2008 to 2010 for how we started.
See The Search for Snoopy in his 2012 Robot Boat for more information such as the map showing coverage of searches done in 2012.
See The 2012 Microtransat Map for Snoopy and the French. This SPOT Track is from the Mail Online. This Map before deletion.
See Bournmouth live web-cam for the weather and size of waves.
Play the video of Snoopy's launch on BBC TV News , Robin getting wet, then our family video of Snoopy's launch with reporters too :-)
Play our 2012 Snoopy-Sloop history video. The underwater TV recce/winch boat used in 2009 is in the 5 minute "Rescue of Snoopy" video
Play the 3 minute Robot Boat Sounds: past, present and future video September 2012 Text-To-Speech and video of Snoopy Sloop for 2013.
Play the 15 minute Snoopy-Sloop 2013 video with latest boat, the 2012 attempt, all boats since 2008 - or the 5 minute version here :-)
Play the 7 minute utube video of Snoopy's Atlantic Attempt on 23rd March .
Play the 7 minute utube video of Snoopy's Atlantic Attempt on 30th March .
Play the 2 minute video of Snoopy Sloop 9 in June 2013 on Bray Lake
Play the 10 minute Video of Snoopy's October 2013 Atlantic Attempt.
Play the 14 minute January 2014 Video of a Bray Lake test, with the new deck camera.
Play the Video of Snoopy's Bray Lake Test on 13th September 2014.

Ben, Snoopy and Robin

7.1 What the Papers say ... Don't believe all you read in the papers :-)

Read Jasper Coppings article in the Sunday Telegraph the Sunday before launch.
Read BBC News report of "crash landing" here or Nice pictures and amusing words in The Mail Online here :-)
The news about Snoopy even got as far as New Zealand, in the Wellington,NZ Dom-Post article :-)
First paper: Snoopy prepared for self-navigating Atlantic voyage by Paul Miles in Maidenhead Advertiser on 5th September 2012.
Journalists may have started with our Press Release and video, but editors need to edit : the meaning may not remain the same :-)
Robin says to Tim Robinson of BBC Radio Solent , "This is the guy who lost one of my GPS bottles last year !" :-)
Higher resolution pictures for the Press ... Snoopy, Mug, Boat, Robin, BenTV, Launch, TimRobin, Cat, NewBoat

8. a typical visit to Bray Lake ...

Robin videos Snoopy's return Robin has added this section, which may be of interest to journalists, who want to "tag along" to get some photos or video. It may also be of help to dog-walkers, who probably wonder why that strange man, seems to be talking to himself, and listening to several radios on the roof of his car.

Snoopy has started making regular visits to Bray Lake again, to prepare him for his next attempt on the Atlantic, expected before Christmas. Bray Lake is near Maidenhead, not far from the M4 motorway junction, and about 20 minutes drive from Robn's home in Sunninghill. You can find out more by looking at the bottom of the Press Release, or simply visit

Maidenhead Sailing Club webcam Robin normally avoids days when it is raining, or when there is no wind at all. He therefore checks web sites like the Met Office, RainToday, and the Maidenhead Sailing Club web cam.

One of the boats are normally ready, and are quickly loaded into the back of Robin's rusty old Mercedes E240 estate car, which was once silver, before discoloured by rust and mud. Important junk added to the car include wellies (the waders are reserved for sea launches), a cheap transistor radio - to pick up speech from Snoopy's computer, a Pocket PC based GPS to record a plot of Snoopy's path on the lake, and - maybe most important of all - Robin's camcorder - so he can record everything, rather than rely on his flakey memory.

GPS plot near Base at Bray Lake Most people park on the right, just before the club house, but Robin has the combination to the barrier, so parks his car near the "Base", a few yards past the club house. Snoopy is usually launched within 5 minutes of Robin arriving. First Robin switches on the Pocket PC, since it takes a minute or two to "warm up" and start recording GPS data. He puts on his wellies, and leans Snoopy against a post, with a tranny radio switched on to pick up the computer's speech. The computer is switched on, and within a few minutes it is speaking and ready to launch.

Robin about to launch Snoopy Robin then uses his camcorder to shoot less than a minutes video, saying things like the date, any changes to Snoopy's boat, and showing what the wind strength and direction was.

Snoopy sailing in a good wind Snoopy is then dropped in the water, and soon after, Robin shoots video. A typical video might last an hour or more, and occasionally a few small clips might be used in edited videos made public. However, the main purpose of Robin's video, is to add yet another unedited video DVD to his collection at home. It provides a useful record of what happened.

Snoopy usually sails around the "Bray Lake Test" within an hour, and possibly as quickly as 20 minutes. This usually depends on the wind direction: the fastest trips are usually with a gentle breeze of 5 to 10 mph from the north-east, which means Snoopy does not need to tack towards a waypoint directly upwind. If the wind is particularly "unkind", Snoopy's trip might take much longer than an hour: the slow bit is always where he needs to sail upwind.

Snoopy is rescued He will normally return accurately to his Base, where he started, but occasionally he might end up stuck in reeds on the far bank, tangled in trees on the island, or snagged on the mooring for a floating jetty. That's when Robin calls in the "Rescue Team" from the club house, and pops another £5 into their drinks kitty :-)

If Snoopy has been left over at Bray Lake for 24/7 reliability tests, he will have his SPOT tracker, which may not always be with him, if it is being worked upon. Robin will occasionally go over to visually check Snoopy, or push him out again, if he has drifted into the bank due to the wind having dropped overnight.

9. Snoopy's Bray Lake Test ... sail 530 metres automatically, through 5 waypoints ...

Bray Lake used for testing of the robot boats

GPS plot of a Bray Lake Test in March 2014: solving the zig-zag sailing, giving a straighter and faster path ...

GPS plot of recent Bray Lake Test by robot boat 9

Snoopy's boat on test before the 2014 Atlantic attempt. That's Robin sat on the bank. Filmed by experimental boat 6 with a Mobius camera.

Snoopy Corner

Another frame from the Mobius video camera, used for Bray Lake tests. Robin watches from near his car, at the "Base" position.

from Mobius camera

Snoopy's preparation in 2012 for the Atlantic crossing - the first taste of salt water ! ...

boat 6 first test in sea

10. the Microtransat List and who visits this page ?


from Robin: this section tells you when, and from roughly where, guys are visiting this "Snoopy" page. Sometimes it may even give a clue to their organisation. e.g. a visit from Aberwystwyth might be someone working in their University Microtransat Team. Start with a visit to Snoopy's Microtransat Contact List. You may even wish to join it. I certainly welcome private emails from those interested in robot boats, even if you don't want to do it publicly.

For those nervous about being seen visiting this "Snoopy" page, remember that this is all done very openly, and you can all see the other visitors yourselves. Your position is only accurate to maybe 15 km/miles, and often much less. I do not use cookies. Worse might be done by google searches or your email provider.

I've used free Digits web counters on the "Home" page of my site, and charity for years. I check how much they increased in 24 hours, and it gives me early warning of emails or 'phone calls, due to something like a BBC website having included a link in a news story. In recent years I've used the Clustrmaps counter, which also provides information on from where and when a visit to my web page was done. I now have seperate counters for this "Snoopy" page.

If you click on the Clustrmaps World map image below, it will take you to Clustrmaps statistics of visits to this SNOOPY page. If you bookmark the page, you can then visit the link, see who has visited, but not be "counted" every time you do this check. Similarly, you can see the visits to the Home page, by clicking on that World map image, at the bottom of the page - or just visit Clustrmaps statistics of visits to the Homepage of

Clustrmaps visits These Clustrmaps statistics include information such as in that yellow image to the left: the times of the visit are accurate, but geographic location, based on your IP Address is not. Sometimes it will only tell you the country. If it says a small town or city, it is probably wrong. e.g. my location in Sunninghill, near Ascot, UK, changes every few days with my IP address, and not as "Sunninghill" or "Ascot". e.g. "Aldershot", "Camberley", "West Drayton", "Farnborough", "Slough" or "Reading". But these places are typically within 10 or 15 miles/km of my location.

If a visit appears for this "Snoopy" page, but NOT for the "Home" page - that tells you that the visitor went direct to the page, from a search engine (e.g. google "snoopy robot boat"), from a bookmark, or from a link taken from another web site or email. This rules out someone who started on the "Home" page, perhaps after a search on "gps software", then visited the prominently linked "Snoopy" page, out of curiosity. i.e. they are probably really interested in robot boats.

That information on the right is from "Feedjit", an alternative counter to "Clustrmaps", used here simply for illustration and test. e.g. my visits from Sunninghill, appear on Feedjit have appeared as "Godalming", "Aldershot", "Slough", or just "UK".

Thank you, my friends and extended family, who helped test Clustrmaps and Feedjit. The rest of you: please do not hesitate to contact me, with an email to my (on my Contact page). Please tell me a little about yourself, such as what country, nearest town, and any interest in robot sailing boats or the Microtransat Challenge. Be sure to say what time you visited this "Snoopy" page, and what brought you to it.

If you know the guys who rescued Snoopy in March 2015, I owe you some beers ! :-)

There have been Hit Counter by Digits visits to this page counted by Digits Web Counter since 20th August 2015.

the French ENSTA-Bretagne boat, braving the Atlantic waves !

robot boat from the French Team, braving the Atlantic waves !

© 1991-2015 Robin Lovelock. Please credit if you use material from any of these pages. Thankyou.