Andrew Bedwell's Big C Atlantic Challenge is over, after his 1m boat was smashed while being lifted from the water...

The Big C Atlantic Challenge was a lifelong dream for skipper Andrew Bedwell.

Now that dream lies in pieces – as does his 1m/3.2ft long boat, Big C.

The vessel was being lifted out of the water in St Johns, Newfoundland when it fell onto the harbour side.

Andrew Bedwell started the Big C Atlantic Challenge two days ago, but decided to return to harbour for safety reasons after noticing water ingress into the boat.

The cause was a bolt that he had cut slightly too much last minute, and the replacement of which allowed water ingress around an O-ring.

“My dad had died two days before I left, I probably wasn’t in the right place. In all honesty, I probably could have pumped all the way there, but I’d promised my wife that if there was anything I wasn’t happy with, I’d always turn back, so that’s what I did,” he explained.

As his microyacht was being lifted out of the water, it fell onto the harbour side, causing irreparable damage.

A man in a 1m boat being towed out to sea

Big C being towed out for the start of the Atlantic crossing in his 1m boat from Newfoundland to The Lizard. Credit: Big C Atlantic Challenge

“We got back to the harbour and the boat basically sunk, because she was full of water and we had to lift her out by her framework rather than putting straps underneath the boat. We lifted her up, got her up to the harbour wall and the framework gave way and she dropped down onto the harbour side and basically it has destroyed the boat,” explained an emotional Andrew.

“And I don’t know what to say to everyone who has supported me and helped me. You have all been absolutely amazing, but Big C is no more. She can’t carry on. I can’t do it. I am sorry.”

Big C was originally built by micro-yachting legend, Tom McNally, who in 1993, set the record for the smallest boat to cross the Atlantic. He completed the record in his 5ft 4.5 inch boat, Vera Hugh.

Continues below…

Tom built Big C with the aim of re-taking the title from American Hugo Vihlen, who beat Tom’s record after he sailed a 5ft 4inch boat across the Atlantic.

Sadly, Tom died from cancer in 2017, without having regained the record.

Andrew Bedwell, who has his own boat repair business, approached Tom’s family who allowed him to modify Big C for his own record attempt, which, if successful, would have seen him sailing 1,900 miles from St Johns, Newfoundland to the finish off Lizard Point, Cornwall.

A man reading a copy of PBO magazine

Andrew Bedwell catches up on some quality reading before leaving. Credit: Big C Atlantic Challenge

Big C was built out of GRP with a foam core. Andrew made the boat smaller for his challenge, and carried out extensive sea trials ahead of his record attempt.

It had 12 watertight compartments and vents which could open and close. The boat’s keel could hold 5 litres of drinking water and had a manual watermaker to refill the tank. She had twin rudders (in case one broke) dual furling headsails, outriggers and an A frame mast.

Andrew, who is from Scarisbrick, Lancashire, has spent years sailing small boats, finishing the Jester Baltimore Challenge in 2015 aboard his 23ft Hunter 707, Outlaw.

He has circumnavigated Britain solo in a 6.5m Mini Transat 6.50, and then sailed the boat from Cumbria to Iceland and into the Arctic Circle.

The Big C Atlantic Challenge aimed to raise money for Cancer Research in tribute to Tom McNally and Andrew’s mother and father, who also both died from cancer.

Want to read more articles?

A subscription to Practical Boat Owner magazine costs around 40% less than the cover price.

Print and digital editions are available through Magazines Direct – where you can also find the latest deals.

PBO is packed with information to help you get the most from boat ownership – whether sail or power.

        • Take your DIY skills to the next level with trusted advice on boat maintenance and repairs
        • Impartial in-depth gear reviews
        • Practical cruising tips for making the most of your time afloat

Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter