Inventor starts driving around world in amphibious car he built

Mait Nilson taking a test drive on Lake Maardu in Estonia last month in his amphibious car; all photos courtesy of Amphibear.com unless otherwise noted

Mait Nilson taking a test drive on Lake Maardu in Estonia last month in his amphibious car; all photos courtesy of Amphibear.com unless otherwise noted

as a model

Model of Mait Nilson’s dream; photo is a screen grab of video at bottom

Mait Nilson had a wild dream at age 10. The mechanical engineer from Tallinn, Estonia, dreamed of traveling around the world in a car that would also serve as a boat and take him across land, oceans, and rivers.

Call him crazy, but Nilson is on his way.

On Saturday, the 44-year-old inventor began living the dream, embarking on a 37,000-mile-plus journey that he estimates will take nine months to complete. By Tuesday afternoon, he was approaching Montpellier, France.

GeoBeats News has a nice wrap-up of Nilson's radical around-the-world project:

"This has been my dream since I was a 10-year-old boy and spent summers at our cottage near Lake Peipsi in East Estonia," Nilson told Agence France-Presse before taking off in his amphibious car called Amphibear.

The vehicle is a Toyota Land Cruiser that has pontoon floats attached to its sides. While driving, the pontoon floats are raised straight up over the car. The floats are lowered with hydraulics to turn the vehicle into a 30-foot boat.

Mait Nilson driving off to start his 37,000-mile-plus journey around the world in his amphibious car; photo from Amphibear's Facebook page

Mait Nilson driving off to start his 37,000-mile-plus journey around the world in his amphibious car; photo from Amphibear’s Facebook page

According to Amphibear.com, the car has a maximum speed of 68 mph and the boat has a maximum speed of 8 knots, or roughly 9 mph. It has an anchor, portable toilet, and a stove that is built into the back door.

The video below shows the progression of Nilson's dream. In it, he said he did 20 years of dreaming, three years of practicing, three years of designing, two years of building, and four years of testing and improving, including 200 hours at sea in the amphibious car.

"I plan to carefully choose the best forecast for the first half of all legs on oceans and hope for the best for the second half," Nilson wrote on his website. "Amphibear can cover 120 nautical miles in a day in ideal conditions. Most legs last less than five days and can be covered when the weather forecast is good.

"As an amphibious vehicle, Amphibear has some disadvantages when compared to a catamaran or a boat: higher center of gravity, less room for equipment and crew. The major advantage is really small wind drag, meaning less risk to capsize due to wind than sailing catamarans."

Mait Nilson's amphibious car

Mait Nilson’s amphibious car

His first sea crossing will be the Strait of Gibraltar. The first river crossing is in Senegal. The first ocean crossing is the Atlantic. His intended route is posted on his website, as is his current location.

Different co-pilots will join him on various legs of the journey with the itinerary to include travel through Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Italy, France, Spain, Morocco, Mauritania, Senegal, Cape Verde, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Colombia, Panama, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, the USA, Canada, and Russia.

"I have done the preparations and I am ready," Nilson wrote.

Now, is the world ready for him?

Here's a look at the making of Nilson's dream come true, along with other photos:

Mait Nilson's amphibious car

Mait Nilson’s amphibious car

Mait Nilson's amphibious car

Mait Nilson’s amphibious car

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