A Wheelie Big Challenge: One Man’s Mission go Across the Atlantic in a ‘Wheelie Bin’
What would be the top of your list of things to do for your 50th birthday? Have a once-in-a-lifetime holiday? What about finally buying that new car you always wanted? Or what if, like Andrew Bedwell, you wanted to sail across the Atlantic in a boat that’s smaller than a wheelie bin? Yes, you read that right.
Taking on a Wheelie Big Challenge
For Andrew, there’s no sedate drifting into middle age. Instead, this May, he’ll be sailing across the Atlantic. His aim? To smash the record for the smallest vessel crewed single-handedly.
Andrew has spent much of the last three years designing his tiny 1.4m long bright orange boat which he’s named ‘The Big C.’ The boat is made out of fibreglass and foam, it weighs 600kg, and its top speed is 2.9mph. It’s been described as a cross between a shopping trolley, a wheelie bin, and a Henry hoover. While you get your head around what that might look like, know that Andrew’s creation is half a metre smaller than the current record holder.
Boat Mad, or Just Mad?
Dad of one Andrew grew up in Kent as an only child in a boat-mad family. He had his own inflatable motorboat at age 6 and the boating bug has shown no signs of going away. His long-suffering wife, Tracy has to hold the fort at home while he goes off on his adventures. Past jaunts have included a solo trip to the Arctic and Iceland, and a solo trip around the UK.
Tracy is concerned that his challenge is his ‘biggest, maddest, and most dangerous one yet.’ So dangerous in fact that Red Bull, who’s sponsored some of his previous challenges, has turned down the chance to do the same again.
A Wheelie Big Goal
Andrew’s goal may be lofty but he believes it’s completely achievable. According to his calculations, his 1,900-mile journey from St. John’s, Newfoundland to Lizard Point in Cornwall should take him two and a half to three months. Hopefully, by his 50th birthday, Andrew will be celebrating taking the record back from 90-year-old Hugo Vihlen in the US. Vihlen has held the record for the past 30 years.
The History of the World Record
When it comes to world records, achieving the ‘smallest vessel to cross the Atlantic’ record might not seem so impressive. Until you imagine doing it in something the size of a wheelie bin that is.
Past record holders made it across in unbelievably tiny vessels. In 1964, John Riding from Lancaster sailed across the Atlantic in a 12ft boat. Not too tiny, you might think. Well, Hugo Vihlen thought so, and he crossed in his 5ft 11 inch boat in 1968. But in 1993, Tom McNally from Lancaster made it across in a 5ft 4.5 inch boat. The boat was made out of an old wardrobe and a washing machine door, and he sailed it from Lisbon to Florida via Puerto Rico. McNally apparently ran out of water and food, and his boat suffered damage in the attempt. Sadly for McNally, Vihlen snatched the title back four months later, in a boat just half an inch smaller.
McNally never got the record back, and in 2017, he died from cancer. Andrew Bedwell named his boat ‘The Big C’ in his honour and is raising money for cancer research by doing the challenge.
Life On The Ocean Waves Isn’t For Everyone
As you might imagine, being at sea in something the size of a wheelie bin won’t be the last word in comfort. Andrew won’t be able to straighten his legs or lie down to sleep. Not that he will get much sleep; he’ll have a nap every other 20 minutes for the duration of the journey.
Forget the home comforts too. He’ll have no shower, bed, or toilet. His food will be in a 1000-calorie sachet he’ll have once per day. He plans to take one set of clothes. And get this. His ‘luxury’ item will be a flannel on a piece of string that he’ll rinse in the sea. Yes, he will use this for pretty much everything.
An Experienced Sailor
Despite the definite lack of creature comforts, Andrew insists he’ll be safe. He’s an experienced sailor with access to all the necessary equipment. He’s got it all; a VHF radio, a chart plotter, an AIS transponder, a rolling compass, two rudders, and two sails.
His other ‘safety’ measures include a padded hat to stop him from getting knocked out and shelves to brace himself in rough seas. Oh, and he’ll have paracetamol wrapped in cling film and ibuprofen gel for any aches and pains.
We wish Andrew well and hope that he smashes the world record. Though we’re definitely glad it’s him doing this rather than us!
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