How to cross the ocean in a three-foot boat, the story of Andrew Bedwell

There are historic feats, such as the first woman’s victory at an around-the-world race; epic, such as crossing the Atlantic on a dinghy converted into an offshore boat; and (perhaps a little) crazy, such as Andrew Bedwell’s. A 48-year-old British sailor, Andrew Bedwell decided to brave the 1,900 nautical miles of Atlantic Ocean separating Canada from the United Kingdom aboard a small “boat” of only 1 meter. It will depart next month from St. John’s on the island of Newfoundland (Canada) bound for Cape Lizard in Cornwall (UK), Britain’s southernmost tip.

Andrew Bedwell aboard Big C
Andrew Bedwell aboard Big C

Andrew Bedwell in the hunt for a record

“On the tomb there are only two dates, the date of birth and the date of death, it is up to us to fill in the blanks in between.” In this spirit Andrew Bedwell picked up the baton from Tom McNally, a British sailor who in 1993 set the record for the Atlantic crossing on the smallest boat ever built, made from parts salvaged from an old closet and the porthole of a washing machine. Tom’s record was soon broken a few months later by American Hugo Vihlen(his story here). Andrew’s goal is to bring the record back to the United Kingdom, using Big C, the boat originally designed by Tom McNally himself who died six years ago from cancer.

Sea trial of Big C
Sea trial of Big C

Andrew Bedwell, a sailmaker by trade, is no stranger to sailing large oceans in small boats. In 2016, he solo circumnavigated Britain aboard his Mini 650. Two years later he set sail for a solo sailing of Iceland and the Arctic Circle.

The smallest boat mia used to cross the Atlantic

Basically a buoy with one mast, two rollable headsails supported by two small booms. On Big C you cannot lie down, only sit. There are 12 watertight compartments, eight inside and four outside, for storing provisions. Andrew hopes to complete the trip in 60 days, but he will carry enough provisions for 90 days at sea. It will also have a manual watermaker that will fill a 6-liter container in the bilge. To power the yacht’s navigation equipment, chart plotter, and radio, there are solar panels at the stern, as well as a tiny crank generator as a backup.

Big C more than a boat looks like a buoy with a mast and two rollable headsails
Big C more than a boat looks like a buoy with a mast and two rollable headsails

“We designed the boat to survive a force 10 storm (up to 55 knots) with the hope that it would only be a force 6 (27 knots). For such a small boat, an enormous amount of thought and planning went into its design.” Focusing exclusively on using every inch of space, Bedwell’s wife Tracy has invented a special high-protein beef jerky that will coat parts of the hull. “I will literally be eating the boat,” he says. “The taste is rather unpleasant, but it is full of all the nutrients I need. Unfortunately, there will be no room on board for treats.”

James Barbaro



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