Dave Charles, 27, from Gosport, Fred Shergold, 27, from Fareham, and Geoff Waight, 24, from Stubbington, had spent three years building the boat in a Warsash garden, but the finishing touches were a race against time.
For within the coming days, Princess Margaret was to launch the vessel and Southern Lion was due to sail from Gosport on the first leg of a journey to the Mediterranean, then on to Tenerife and the West Indies.
The three men continued their full-time jobs at the Royal Naval Armament Depot, Gosport, and dedicated every spare minute to the catamaran.
They sold all their goods to finance the trip but the estimated £3,500 needed to build the boat had been badly hit by inflation and their budget had to stretch to £7,500.
Dave was the spokesman for all three when it came to future ambitions and plans: ‘We hope to come back alive.’