Motorboaters wasted no time in responding to Bob Geldof's appeal to help bring French anti-poverty campaigners across the Channel for the G8 summit.

Motorboaters wasted no time in responding to Bob Geldof’s appeal to help bring French anti-poverty campaigners across the Channel for the G8 summit.

Before Geldof had finished announcing the initiative, which could see a massive flotilla of leisureboats head to France and back on 3 July, local motorboaters were lining up to offer their services.

The extraordinary scheme, which Geldof unveiled today at Swanwick Marina, Southampton, envisages private owners ferrying protesters from France to the South Coast, where they will be transported to Edinburgh to help pile pressure on world leaders on 6 July.

The idea is an offshoot of Geldof’s series of stadium concerts across the world to highlight global poverty and force the G8 leaders to tackle the problem this year.

Geldof compared the proposed spirit of the boating initiative to that of the Dunkirk evacuations, when leisureboaters crossed the Channel to rescue thousands of retreating British soldiers from occupied France in 1940.

Geldof said: “This time the action is on poverty. This is our chance to make sure the G8 leaders understand we will not stand by and watch them do nothing – again.

“I want everyone who’s got access to a boat to set sail on 3 July and be part of the Long Walk to Justice. This is the rich world on the move in support of those who can barely crawl.”

The logistics of the scheme are yet to be organised, but it will also call on the help of bed and breakfast and hostel owners along the coast, who will put protesters up for the night before they head north to Scotland.

Sailor Ellen MacArthur is supporting the initiative and the idea is already attracting the attention of motorboaters.

Martin Burtinshaw, who keeps a Swordsman 37 at Swanwick, delighted Geldof by being the first to volunteer his services.

And MBM readers Andrew Swanson and Peter Stanley, who also berth their craft in the Hamble, said: “This sounds like a crazy idea but we’re going to go for it. If we as boaters can help, we won’t miss the opportunity.”

Geldof said: “This is your chance to make your hobby have real political resonance.”