He’s gonna need a bigger boat.
A sailor’s record-setting quest to cross the Atlantic Ocean in the smallest boat ever ended in tears when the 3-foot 10-inch boat began taking on water shortly after his departure and smashed on a seawall as it was being hauled out for repairs.
Andrew Bedwell, a 49-year-old sailor and sailmaker from England spent three years outfitting his micro yacht named “Big C” and finally set out on the planned 1,900-mile voyage from Newfoundland to the southern tip of England last weekend.
In a video posted on Instagram the day before his Sunday departure, Bedwell appeared positively chuffed to be on his way.
“So, tomorrow’s the day!” before telling followers how they could track his progress across the deep,” he explained with a twinkling eye.
But within hours of his grand departure, Bedwell explained in a decidedly more muted video that he’d been forced to return to port. The Big C began taking on water, a problem he suspected was brought on by last-minute modifications he’d made.
Undeterred, he said he was shortly heading back out to the harbor to assess the situation.
On Monday, Bedwell posted a tearful video describing the tragedy. Through shuddering sobs, he explained how Big C had “basically sunk” by the time he’d returned to the harbor. The boat was filled with “half or three quarters of a ton or a ton of water” and had to be lifted out by her framework instead of with straps run under the hull.
“We lifted her up, got her up to the harbor wall. And the framework gave way…” Bedwell said, gasping for air between sobs and pulling at his hair in agonized despair. “And she dropped down onto the harborside, and basically it destroyed the boat.”
“Big C is no more. She can’t carry on. I can’t do it. I’m sorry, Um, I’m just. I…” Then the message cut off.
Bedwell captioned the video “Big C – the end of a dream.” His accounts have gone radio-silent since.
The decline was a startling and raw display for Bedwell, a salty Sir Edmund Hillary-looking Brit who’s previously sailed to the Arctic in a 21-foot boat and always appeared the consummately stolid seaman in his countless Instagram posts and media appearances promoting the Big C journey.
But his inconsolable state was more than understandable — for the past three years Bedwell had dedicated all his energies to preparing for the trip. He raised thousands in funding and sponsorship. He had planned to donate proceeds to cancer charities in honor of his parents.
Bedwell purchased Big C itself from the daughter of Tom McNally, according to Yachting World, a sailor who once set the record for a trans-Atlantic Crossing in the world’s smallest vessel in 1993 before being beaten out by a competitor. McNally had built Big C to reclaim the record but died of kidney cancer in 2017 before he could mount the voyage.
Once in his hands, Bedwell undertook a considerable overhaul of Big C. He modified elements of the hull design to increase stability and speed, doing his own metal and fiberglass work along the way to machine one-of-a-kind parts for his one-of-a-kind boat.
The boat’s keel was outfitted to store fresh water, and the inner wall of the hull was designed to maximize compartment space that he filled with enough vacuum-sealed packs of a bizarre raisin and beef jerky recipe of his own creation to last the more than 90 days he expected to be at sea.
Big C’s cabin was only big enough for cramped sitting and sleeping in a tight fetal position, but Bedwell managed to rig it with comfortable seating and chose efficient clothing like a long mariner’s overcoat which served as both a warm waterproof jacket and sleeping bag.
Bedwell placed a domed weather-proof hatch window over the cabin, used an outrigger system to maximize sail space, hooked up the running lights and navigational computers to solar panels, and let his 10-year-old daughter Poppy decorate the interior with drawings of their family.
In the video announcing Big C’s demise, Bedwell thanked his supporters for their support and apologized for how the adventure ended.
“I don’t know what to say to everyone who’s supported and helped me. You’ve all been incredible.”
Asked whether he planned to mount another record attempt, Bedwell told The Post “It’s still early days.”
“It has to be a new vessel though as there’s lots of damage on Big C, so it’s speaking with current sponsors and I’ve had some very kind offers from a lot of people who can assist with a new vessel.”
One of Poppy’s decorations inside Big C was a hatch filled with urgings that her dad return safely and soon, listing the “cuddles,” the “tickles,” and the “trampolining” she’d miss while he was away.
On it, she also printed a message in green marker with a reminder to her dad: “Always try your best and never give up!”
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