Micro-Yachting: UK Man to Cross the Atlantic in a 3ft 3in boat 

Next spring, Andrew Bedwell will try to sail alone across the Atlantic from Canada to the UK in a minuscule boat that is 99cm long.

If he completes the 3,050km journey, the 48-year-old amateur yachtsman from Lancashire will break the record for the smallest vessel to cross the Atlantic. 

The fiberglass boat, which looks like an orange-and-white buoy with a sail, was designed and built by ex-record holder Tom McNally, who completed a similar journey in 1993. At the time, McNally was known as the “crazy sailor”, when he sailed across the Atlantic in a boat that was just five feet long. He was a legend in the world of micro-yachting. Bedwell is trying to emulate his journey and pay tribute to one of his inspirations. 

Photo: BigCAtlanticChallenge


The 3-foot 3-inch long boat “is incredibly strong,” Bedwell told the Marine Industry News. “It has a fiberglass exterior…[and] a foam core and fiberglass on the inside.”

The boat also sports an A-frame mast, double furling headsails, outriggers, and twin rudders. There is one main waterproof compartment with vents that Bedwell can open and close as necessary. Above this compartment is a transparent dome that Bedwell can look to navigate. 

The boat is half his size

Bedwell is six feet tall, and with the dome down, he is unable to stand. Even when he sits in the vessel with the dome closed, there is just one inch of clearance between the top of his head and the dome. Bedwell can only stretch his legs out two-thirds of the way. A physiotherapist has given him exercises to maintain leg strength during the cramped crossing. 

Tom McNally. Photo: liverpoolecho.co.uk


Bedwell wants to complete the journey in 60 days but will carry 90 days of supplies. He will store these in 12 small watertight compartments, eight inside the vessel and four on the outside.

Because of the limited space, the food — which will be made specifically for the journey — is purely functional. “It will taste pretty vile, but it’s just there to do the job, basically,” he says. There will not even be any small treats.

Bedwell added, “I’m under no illusions it’s going to be easy. The lack of space, toilet, and proper eating options will be the hardest for me. Throw in a few Atlantic storms, and it could get interesting!”

He has compared life on the boat to sitting in a wheelie bin or crouching underneath an office desk. 

Photo: BigCAtlanticChallenge


Though the boat lacks luxuries, it does include some safety features. There is a full harness inside the main compartment to stop the waves from tossing him around. The boat is designed to resist capsizing, although this will be inevitable during the journey.

The vents on the front of the vessel will slam shut if waves hit, to prevent any onboarding of water. Once closed, Bedwell will have 40 minutes of air. A full support crew will track and help guide his journey. 

In early July, he completed his first sea trial. The boat had slightly more buoyancy than expected, so he’s now making a new adjustable keel to balance the vessel better in a variety of conditions. He plans a number of sea trials before setting off next year. 

Photo: BigCAtlantic Challenge

Rebecca McPhee

Rebecca McPhee is a freelance writer for ExplorersWeb.

Rebecca has been writing about open water sports, adventure travel, and marine science for three years. Prior to that, Rebecca worked as an Editorial Assistant at Taylor and Francis, and a Wildlife Officer for ORCA.

Based in the UK Rebecca is a science teacher and volunteers for a number of marine charities. She enjoys open water swimming, hiking, diving, and traveling.