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42-inch yacht still hoping to become the smallest boat to cross the Atlantic (yachtingworld.com)
464 points by tim_garcia 125 days ago | hide | past | web | 199 comments | favorite

Hope he makes it but doesn't sound like it will be very fun.

I enjoyed watching a documentary ( "Maidentrip" http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2555268 ) about a young girl that sailed around the world just for fun. She did it in an older boat with limited electronics on board and had fun and made frequent stops just to visit other cultures.

Contrasted with another young girl ( "Wildeyes" http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1939787/ ) that did it for a record's sake, on a modern boat, with multiple sponsors, packed with electronics (all of which failed) and ultimately capsized in the Indian ocean.

And another good one was "Deep Water" ( http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0460766/ ) where a man tried to win an "around the world" yacht race (for a business venture) but ultimately went insane and jumped overboard.

Yeah, probably not very fun. My dad is currently crossing the Atlantic in a boat that's about 42 feet, not inches. Just got an email from the Azores (he's going from Florida to Portugal) and said he's changing his route due to force 8-9 winds and 6-10 meter waves.

No fun, and likely life threatening. With a max speed of about 2 1/2 knots with a clean hull, the little boat isn't fast enough to sail out of the way of heavy weather.

Once in a big storm, I can't even imagine the beating one would take inside that tiny craft, sliding down the face of a monster wave, crashing into the trough at the bottom, getting rolled. But perhaps his hull and rig design isn't subject to the same broaching and capsizing forces as a larger monohull...

I'm curious to read more about the design of the boat, his equipment, procedures and planning. Though it's best not to judge from a mere photo, there were several things visible in the images of the craft and video of his attempted departure that seemed counter to good seamanship.

Yeah, a boat that short has no speed whatsoever. And being exposed to the elements for that long. No shelter from wind and rain. Sleeping like that. But if he makes it, good for him. Holy shit.

Uh, he has shelter from wind and rain. There's a waterproof hatch into the interior. Did I misunderstand you?

Yeah, I'd had a few whiskeys when I read the article and I missed that. My mistake. Still a rough trip, and I hope he makes it. That takes some serious balls.

Somebody has to be outside the hatch in a storm, to try to keep the boat from tipping over.

"With a balance point about 16in above the keel and a 5ft draught he has a stability profile most designers would kill for."

That boat's not tipping over.

until big jumps between waves deform the light hull and the seals start leaking

Its a non-moored mooring buoy... if anything can survive, that design will.

But, a multiday storm in that pan, will be anything but fun.

With so much weight on the keel, the boat is very unlikely to tip over. And if it does, it will right itself. It's most likely a very rough roller coaster ride, but unless you loose the keel or water gets into the boat you'll come out upright. Since the space inside is so limited, the usual danger of bruising yourself when the boat tips is limited. Not much space for objects to fly either.

This video shows how hard it is to capsize a properly ballasted sailboat: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R7mYTOnOs3Y&t=3m45s

Sweet video. Now I want one...

When there is nothing you can do then you do nothing. There is no requirement to be outside.

Still doesn't sound like fun.

People who do extremely uncomfortable things to break records are not in it to have "fun."

Is he doing it single handed? I'd love to do that one day.

I did a trans-Atlantic about 10 years ago (Liverpool, england to Salvador, Brazil) as part of the clipper challenge race. We had a few force 8 and above experiences between the training and the actual trip. The boats were a bit bigger (68 foot, from memory) but either way it's amazing how resilient they are.

Once we went right over surfing down a wave (had a broach). At one point the boat was standing upright on the bow and was over so far that the mast was almost level with water so I could walk up it. The team spent a lot of time stitching those sails together again :-)

>"Once we went right over surfing down a wave (had a broach). At one point the boat was standing upright on the bow and was over so far that the mast was almost level with water so I could walk up it."

Wow, did you flip over end over end then? How did you become oriented with the direction of the wave? Did the boat just right itself?

We were flying a kite at the time and the line had become jammed on the winch. As a result, we couldn't spill any wind and the pressure of the wind on the 3 sails was so strong that the boat was being dragged along (had been doing about 20 knots before it happened).

The skipper decided to dump the line that was holding the spinnaker pole back, which turned out to be a terrible idea. Obviously that line has all the force on it, so the spinnaker pole shot forward and snapped in half on the forestay (thank God it didn't take the rigging out). It didn't really ease the pressure and the kite was still flying.

Luckily (or not) the kite ripped under the force. It was still pulling us along but because enough pressure had come off everything by this stage we were able to get the main down.

We ended up having to drop the kite in the sea and then spent a couple of hours getting it back on board.

It was a pretty exciting afternoon :-)

I was thinking I wouldn't even want to cross in a 42 foot yacht.

I'm in the Maritimes (south east Canada) and I know it can be incredibly rough here 10m (33 foot) waves are normal off Newfoundland. It's so bad an entire 25,000 ton oil rig sank in a storm a few decades ago.

One rogue wave could smash that little 42 inch yacht to bits the size of confetti.

I wish the Tiny Yacht guy luck but it's going to be rough!

>"I'm in the Maritimes (south east Canada) and I know it can be incredibly rough here 10m (33 foot) waves are normal off Newfoundland."

Is this the Bay of Fundy?

No, that's a long way from Fundy. 10+ meter swell is common on both exposed coasts in the open ocean. Fundy is not exposed that way but has had high tides due to narrowing.

Sounds utterly miserable! I spent a few months on a ship that tended toward pitching more than rolling -- that motion was miserable for my body. This guys journey sounds like it will be a real sufferfest ...

people so under estimate how difficult ocean sailing can be; not saying your father is in this category because its obvious he isn't if he is willing to try that trip.

I remember sailing out of Hilton Head area (SE Georgia US) on a thirty footer and damn can waves just make the horizon vanish let alone that feeling you get when you don't see land. Throw in sail is not something I would want to manage by myself.

And don't forget the hat-tip Plastiki composed entirely from reclaimed PET, which sailed successfully from San Francisco to Sydney. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plastiki

His grandson just did it again in 2006: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tangaroa_Expedition

A wild adventure, to be sure. But things could have ended a lot worse. The Kon-Tiki crew was one serious problem away from complete disaster. They really should have been accompanied by a second vessel that could have rescued them in the event of serious problems with the Kon-Tiki.

Adding to that, I recommend "Chasing Bubbles" (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5254722/ full version here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ibP5IQxId34). Watch it before reading the plot.

That's an incredible, and incredibly moving, film.

This was really fantastic. Thanks for sharing!

On that topic I found Steve Callahan's account [1] of how he survived 2.5 months on a lifeboat really impressive. The whole book was a series of "how in the did he pull that off" moments.

[1] "Adrift: 76 days lost at sea," Callahan, Steven (1986).

also on that topic, i am reminded of this story[0] where Salvador Alvarenga survived 14 months lost at sea.

[0] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/nov/07/fisherman-lost...

In that vein, I just watched Losing Sight of Shore (http://losingsightofshore.com/) and it's fantastic. It's about a team of 4 women (sort of - they had to sub out one member for logistical reasons) who rowed across the Pacific. Quite a trip.

I've also watched this recently on Netflix with my young family - it's quite inspiring.

Two of my favorite books about sailing are:

Sailing Alone Around the World https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sailing_Alone_Around_the_World about Joshua Slocum, the first person to sail around the world alone

Confessions of a Long Distance Sailor https://arachnoid.com/sailbook/ about Paul Lutus sailing around the world alone from 1988-1991

Both are interesting kind of like Maidentrip (which I haven't seen, will have to check out) - visiting different cultures, limited technical means (although Paul did have a computer, TV, VCR...).

Still reading Slocum's account, but second the lutus recommendation. That was an awesome read, both the good and bad bits about sailing.

42 inch or about 1.06 meters when waves can be as high as 62 feet http://www.cbsnews.com/news/massive-wave-atlantic-ocean-smas... ....even common waves of 10-15 feet will more than enough....he's much braver than me.

Maybe he knows that he has a safety valve, he can survive in that bubble for x days until rescue comes. I'm claustrophobic (not actually diagnosed but IMO) so unless I could save my children's lives, I wouldn't even try.

Maybe all the stars will align, but if I had to bet, for his next attempt, he already has his food supply.

Who is paying for this guys rescue? Is there insurance he pays for this?

He has a satellite phone and a radio, he can contact nearby ships if his propulsion fails and he's dead in the water. He has food/water in the meantime. If the hull integrity is lost and there's no ship nearby, well, he better have a immersion suit in his equipment list along with a working EPIRB.

Given he has taken adequate precautions and has appropriate equipment, I have absolutely no issue with his rescue being at taxpayer expense.

The one thing that he should iron out before making the crossing is making sure that there won't be any fatigue issues with the hull. Doing appropriate testing (I don't know the material and don't know the best non-destructive methods for testing it) on a used hull to make sure there aren't cracks/flaws that develop over time is a good idea.

Given he'll have to sleep, I also think that a reliable electronic alerting system that continuously monitors bilge level / hull integrity and the position/orientation of the boat seems like a necessary addition as well. Early warning of critical issues in such a small craft is a good idea.

Rescue? He's a message in a bottle. One roller with the hatch open and everything is wet. Maybe in a box or something but he still can't open it without it getting wet. My guess is there's no rescue and he turns up on a beach I ln 10 years.

He's got float balloons and enough CO2 to float it completely full of water 3 times.

yeah not saying he's going to sink, saying he's not going to be able to call for help after he pukes all over the radio and the flare washes out of his hand while he's getting tossed.

Great list thank you!

The Undaunted has a laden weight of 1800 pounds [1].

The largest ship, the Pioneering Spirit, displaces 932,000 tonnes [2].

The Pioneering Spirit is over a million times larger than the Undaunted.

I have been unable to determine how their nutella reserves compare.

[1] https://littleboatproject.org/specs/

[2] https://www.deltamarin.com/references/pioneering-spirit-piet...

I am always annoyed when information about interesting engineering projects is cluttered with overly complicated (but beautiful) imperial units. It's a guarantee to make an article look shallow and trivialised.

Here's a very simple example why Metric is better:

Length: 1m Draught: 1.5 cubic meters Density of salt water is a bit over 1.0

How heavy can the Undaughted get untill it sinks? Easy to answer in metric, since 1.5 cubic meters equal to 1500 kg of water.

Looking at the weight: 544kg unladen, or 816kg laden, means it is about half as dense overall as it's draught in water.

Everybody can do that calculation while reading the article in a second, and these conversions get second nature soon. Impossible with imperial.

> Provisions are stowed under Kent’s feet. “I have enough food – half freeze-dried – for six months at 1,500 calories a day. I have intentionally put on 20 extra pounds for the trip as well.

> “My diet consists of nuts, dried fruit, protein powder, nutrition bars, a variety of soups, stews, pasta, peanut butter, Nutella and so on. I have a huge variety as well as 64,000 extra calories in the form of two gallons of olive oil to add to my food.

> “None of my food needs cooking but I do have a 12V/120W heat coil wand to heat water for dinner or tea or coffee, if I can afford the power. With a two-minute boil time I should be able to use it often. All of this fits in the bilge and down the keel.”

I wondered how he did food. And how he has pasta that doesn't need cooked but lasts six months.

Lots of dried foods like ramen, beans, mashed potatoes, etc will hydrate without hot water. It takes more time, but works well. These no-cook setups are used by many long trail thru-hikers that choose not to bother with stoves and fuel.

If you're looking to try that. Be careful with beans, either get them pre-cooked or make sure they're a type that's safe to eat without boiling.


I actually hiked with a person who "cooked" or rehydrated meals by putting the ingredients in a sealed plastic bag and then putting that in his underwear. Seriously.

Ah, the infamous crotch pot slow cooker.

Perhaps a clever, yet obviously comedic, idea. But which foods will cook at a warm temperature that wont at a cold?

There is no cooking involved in those cases, just rehydration. It just happens faster at higher temperatures. And it's less unpleasant than eating ice-cold.

Yes, I should have used prepare in place of cook, as cooking requires heat.

Wouldn't bacterial growth be a concern in a wet, warm environment for an extended period? Even if the food was bacteria-free, the container can pick things up from the environment. Even if it's low-risk, on a long thru hike I wouldn't want any risk of stomach issues.

I believe all the food is sealed air-tight.

I've read that heating and hydrating pasta are separable processes. Boiling hydrates it fastest, but you can also soak it in cold water for a few hours, then boil for 30 seconds to heat it and you're done. Maybe you can skip the heating step completely if you're okay with cold pasta.

Dehydrated pasta doesn't need cooking.

More specifically, it's already cooked.

In fact, 8 oz of hot water (say from a coffee shop or not quite boiled on a camping μstove) added to a larger cup, covered, will rehydrate pasta without external heat just fine (~15 min) and it's probably not as sodium-terrible as ramen.

Ramen doesn't need to be sodium terrible. Even with cheap Top Ramen and similar, you don't need to use the entire "flavor packet", the noodles themselves (which are all you're interested in for the calories) are low in sodium.

Even ages ago when Top Ramen was a staple of my diet, I found it much too salty to use the entire flavor packet.

I use a wide mouth, vacuum bottle, to cook rice or pasta. It keeps the heat in, so you only have to heat it up initially, not continuously. A bonus is that you don't have to pay any attention while cooking,

I first thought, oh cool project; an autonomous drone boat must be pretty hard to build and manage. Probably a final for school or a robotics group.

...Nope. The kid is actually trying to pilot it himself. 48" boat. Honestly, wonder which challenge is harder. I know which one I'd prefer.

He's 33, hardly a "kid"

My pet peeve. In graduate school we had professors, lecturers, working professionals etc constantly calling us students "kids" even though we were all 25+ yrs old. I believe this is a pretty American thing to always be infantilizing people.

Yes, like calling grown women "girl", or calling partners "babe"/"bae". In German this would sound very, very off.

Not really. Calling your girlfriend 'Baby' or refering to a girls-night-out as 'Mädelsabend' are perfectly common for example.

I agree though that I never heard a professor refer to his students in this way and would definitively find it strange if that happened.

"Baby" does not count because it's not German, and it can be traced back directly to imported pop culture (Movies). You are right about "Mädels", it's not exactly the same as "girl" though (rather girly) - you would never say "Mädchenabend", that's cringy.

I never understood it, 25+ year old "kids" going to "school"

In all American TV shows set in high school, the actors/actresses are all in their mid-20s. Ralph Macchio was in his 30s when he played the Karate Kid. It's altered people's expectations of how people look at certain ages.

Macchio was 23 in the first film, and 28 in Karate Kid 3. This information is at your fingertips.

Nah I was meaning the word choice, to me it's weird to call people that age "kids" and t say there at "school" not university/college

Isn't that all the more impressive in a 42 inch boat?

Same thought here! I thought "4 foot robotic boat, I guess you need to be long enough for stability". I really enjoyed the read in any case.

Scout[1] is an autonomous craft currently building their second attempt to cross the Atlantic. Their 2013 try made it a quarter of the way before (presumably) loosing the rudder and then lost tracking a few months later. There's a yearly competition[2] as well.

[1]: http://gotransat.com

[2]: http://Microtransat.org

Its keel has an emergency water tank slung off the bottom -- clever. Keeps the center of gravity low as possible.

Good thing he has experience with meditation and living along, it's going to be a miserable trip. If a storm rolls through he might be holed up in the tiny cabin for days.

Slightly OT - For anyone who doesn't know what modern sailing looks like here are a couple of promo clips from the teams racing the Americas Cup in the coming months.

The boats fly rather than sail these days. They're an amazing leap in design.



Describing the Americas Cup yachts as "modern sailing" is akin to describing F1 as "modern motoring" or the Cray Titan as "modern computing".

They're amazing feats of engineering, but not really representative of current usage.

You're right. I worded it poorly.

For anyone who's into sailing, they'll know about these amazing modern craft, but most people won't. I was hoping to convince those who aren't engaged in sailing at all to watch the Americas Cup this year (because it's going to be awesome).

There are a few consumer grade foiling catamarans, but yea, you won't see much foiling on your average day out on the water.

There is an affordable foiling kit for popular sailing dinghies like the Laser. I already saw several of these throughout Europe, e.g. in the Netherlands, on the Baltic Sea and on lake Müggelsee in Berlin. Foiling at ~6bft, these boats are incredibly fast. And just seeing them seemingly fly above the water from a distance is really special.

Yet. Given obvious upsides this technology will soon become much more common. Imho of course.

This 'yacht' is as wide as it is long and deeper under water than it is long. It also, if I understand things correctly, drags its emergency water tank along, and has 'saddle bags' that also are outside that 42 by 42 inch square.

I think they should measure these ships by underwater volume at time of departure.

Otherwise, the next 'yacht' will be a foot long and wide but 20 feet high, most of it underwater, and some brave/suicidal soul will volunteer to 'sail' it.

And what would be wrong with that? The goal is to have the shortest length of boat, a common measurement in boating. Obviously to achieve that you have to be clever with the attributes of the boat not under restriction. I'm sure no one would complain if you went for the "lowest underwater volume at time of departure" record, but I don't see how it's relevant here.

Hah, reminds me of snub nosed fishing vessels. If a commercial fishing license costs ~$1k per foot of boat length per year, then cutting 3' off of the bow seems like a great idea. You can even temporarily reattach this ornamental nose, whenever the boat is not being inspected.

That's the goal, yes, but IMO, this design is cheating to beat it. It stretches the idea of what is a boat (for example: can it be wider than it is long?), and of where the boat ends and the stuff loaded onto it starts.

You can also be clever by designing a 'boat' that is nothing more than a mast with a large counterweight standing vertically in the water, attach your permanently inflated 20 meter long 'life raft' to it, and live out of that life raft during the trip. Such a 'boat' could easily be less than a foot long.

What you call cheating others call innovation. You have a personal view of what a "boat" is, but that doesn't mean it's shared by everyone, even just within the boating community.

I think the person designing this boat would also call your hypothetical cheating, but that doesn't make his boat cheating.

A submarine shouldn't really count

I wonder if there is there a record for smallest submarine?

Submarines generally aren't sail-powered.

For non-planing hulls, length of the hull at the waterline has a very large impact on performance, so this is a very reasonable measurement.

I would not be surprised to find that there is a separate record for lowest displacement crossing, though that would be much more dangerous as it would encourage you to skimp on supplies.

In any event this boat is pretty lean by your standard too, as at 1800lbs (~800kg) laden, it displaces about 5-6 times as much as a fully rigged and crewed Laser Standard[1], which is not something you could cross the Atlantic in.

1: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laser_(dinghy)

I think they should measure these ships by underwater volume at time of departure.

Underwater volume == weight of the boat. You need a hefty underwater keel in a sailboat, especially a blue-water boat, otherwise the forces on the sail could make it capsize.

This reminds me of the crossing that two Finnish lads made in 1970 using Marino Mustang, a 4.3 m plastic motorboat, from Dakar to Guyana.

The remarkable thing is that they did not have nearly enough petrol for the trip -- they left off and when they ran out, they signaled passing larger ships to beg for more. They had a small amateurish sail which was useless.


I see, he's not at all concerned about losing his mind spending four grueling months in a 42" x 42" area.

He has a swimming harness so he can get out and stretch his legs once in a while.

I know it's the original headline but this kind thing irks me. The creator of the boat is hoping to cross the Atlantic. The boat is a thing and doesn't have hopes.

Pretty cool project, though.

It's a common way to talk about ships and their crews like that. The boat is the whole.

I have never seen it when there was only one person on the boat.

And I've never seen a 42 inch boat.

Web site for the project itself: https://littleboatproject.org

On a side note. We were one of the first boats to visit the new marina in La Gomera. It's fantastic diving and the water is the coolest blue you will ever sea. On land. The island is very rustic and undeveloped. They have a project wind farm that uses gravity storage to power the entire island. It's not the easiest island to get to but it is worth the trip.

Damn I need to visit La Gomera one time, I spent 2 months on Tenerife, but didn't visit it even once. I am going there to do some cycling next time.

It's generally marketed for walking, as far as I've seen.

This sounds awesome

> Undaunted is a terrible boat, but he is a great storm shelter. A sailing capsule ready for the worst and also able to do the easy part, sailing in a straight line.

So basically it's about surviving indefinitely while drifting in the right direction. Why does anyone do this voluntarily.

> Kent says he is unconcerned about the psychological challenge of living in such a small space for four months.

> “I have spent weeks alone in the Guatemalan Highlands, and lived alone in the woods for years. I have never been so alone or for so long, but few have.


> So basically it's about surviving indefinitely while drifting in the right direction.

That reminds me of the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy's description of flight: "The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss"

> Undaunted is a terrible boat, but he is a great storm shelter

Anyone know is there an intentional reason to use "he" for the boat here? Normally sailing vessels are female in English and this was jarring to me, but it looks intended.

Yeah I also noticed that. No idea why.

42 inch = 1.07 m

Fairly irrelevant but I've only ever heard boats referred to in feminine terms and he called his yacht a "he". Is this more common than I've been led to believe?

I think it's related to calling the boat "a grumpy little man".

Some languages (German, I believe) refer to boats as male.

Not really. The noun "ship" is neuter (das Schiff), and most boats are referred to in female form.

Can a nautical someone explain why the crossing is estimated to take 3–4 months? I thought a crossing from the Canaries to the Caribbean was just a few weeks under good downwind sail.

Hull speed (maximum speed for a non-planing aka "displacement" hull) is proportional to the square root of the length of the hull. The article says he has a "hull speed of just 2.5 knots". Most (well, all) crossings are done on much longer boats.

Wikipedia on Hull Speed [1] is very interesting:

> Though the term "hull speed" seems to suggest that it is some sort of "speed limit" for a boat, in fact drag for a displacement hull increases smoothly and at an increasing rate with speed as hull speed is approached and exceeded, often with no noticeable inflection at hull speed.

Which makes it sound like Hull Speed is not very relevant to look at, but later it also says:

> This very sharp rise in resistance at around a speed-length ratio of 1.3 to 1.5 [where hull speed is reach] probably seemed insurmountable in early sailing ships and so became an apparent barrier. This leads to the concept of 'hull speed'.

The page on Wave-Makign Resistance is related [2]. So it sounds like hull speed is not a hard limit (and is surpassed easily in powered boats or in specific boat designs like racing kayaks) but would be a reasonable upper bound for how fast this particular yatch could go even though nothing truly specific changes right at hull speed. Can anyone elaborate?

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hull_speed [2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wave-making_resistance

It's a useful rule of thumb in terms of "where you'll stop accelerating with the wind on a normal boat", not absolute hard limit. You can play with length to start planing earlier which is the source of many a fun design (e.g. [1]). Some boats don't have a hull [2].

There's many other variables (weight, beam, etc.), here's a fun one: we once rented a 25 footer mostly because it was incredibly cheap (something like 150 EUR for a week). It was surprisingly slow for its size, even in fairly involved wind where we needed engine help to tack it had trouble breaking past 5-6 knots, to the amusement of not-much-larger yachts that overtook us like a German traveling salesman on the Autobahn. I took a dive under to see what was up with the hull and was faced with a scene not too different from the rocky bottom of the sea: barnacles, algae, some of them trailing foot long appendices...

The OP "yacht" is very strange to me as it looks like the guy put a keel and a sail on a buoy. The sailing dynamics appear to involve pitching forward instead of heeling (leaning sideways). I'm amazed he can do as much as 2.4 knots.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8CbJS_ZHs6g (Formula windsurfing)

[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y7ie5C1-b3w (Mirabaud LX: foiler, without hull)

> The OP "yacht" is very strange to me as it looks like the guy put a keel and a sail on a buoy.

The photos on this [1] page make me think of a keel welded to a sandblasting cabinet...

[1] https://carrie-soltis.squarespace.com/specs

Yep, you are expected to sail at around 5 knots on a quite common size of 32 ft. In reality you can push it to 6 or 7 knots, but you don't wanna push it in the middle of the ocean.

The shortest path is from Cape Verde to Brazil, around 1350 nm, but doldrums (area with not wind) is there, so not the smartest place to sail.

The transatlantic crossing is notorious for its erratic conditions. Sometimes one can go a whole crossing with nothing but fair conditions; other times people are less fortunate. However, winds are normally high (enabling quick passage). But with winds comes waves and the large rolling waves of the Atlantic can pose a significant challenge to smaller vessels.

The solution for this vessel was to heavily ballast the vessel. With this comes a large sacrifice of speed.

It's notable that the prototypical ocean-crossing monohull could be said to be the Volvo Open series, which are used in the Volvo Ocean Race (a triannual race around the world). The LOA (full length) of these boats is 72.6 ft.

The boat is designed more to be stable than to be fast.

No nautical experience -- but small boat, small sail with limited capabilities might explain it.

I'm curious about these claims:

> He just bobs up and down. With a balance point about 16in above the keel and a 5ft draught he has a stability profile most designers would kill for. ndaunted is a terrible boat, but he is a great storm shelter. A sailing capsule ready for the worst and also able to do the easy part, sailing in a straight line.

How true is this? If it is, wouldn't the same hull profile be beneficial for lifeboats?

Lifeboats of the kind that are sent to sailors in distress, or lifeboats of the kind carried by large ships in the event of having to abandon ship?

One compromise made by the 42-inch yacht is speed. As a general rule, speed is proportional to hull-length: the longer the boat, the faster it can go [1].

In the case of the lifeboats carried by ships, they need to be space-efficient enough to be carried, and have enough capacity to take passengers, and although it's very stable, I'm not sure the 42-inch yacht would be practical as an emergency lifeboat.

[1] http://www.boats.com/reviews/crunching-numbers-hull-speed-bo...

I assume that this would make life boats too heavy since they would need a very heavy keel. They often don't even have a keel IIRC, which makes them easier to handle and store.

Right. And if the keel was anything like Undaunted's, there'd be a major risk of it being damaged if the lifeboat ever had to be launched by dropping it into the water (rather than lowering it gently).

Definintely not a boat guy, but last time I was near the water I saw a cruise liner take off, I noticed the lifeboats were more like 'life capsules' .. they were completely enclosed and (total speculation from that fact) presumably some kind of 5-point harness for the passengers so capsizing overall isn't really a danger.. Passengers would just spin around a while until conditions improve, and the boat will right itself from whatever ballast it does have.. since the goal of the lifeboat isn't to 'go' anywhere, it doesn't need to be so upright as to support a sail like here..

Having great grandparents from Nantucket who's 7 family members died at sea while working as crab fishermen, it's seems reasonable this is a publicity stunt or he has absolutely no respect for how violent and unforgiving is the ocean.

Somebody did it in a 5ft 4in boat, he's trying to break the record.

He's a professional sailor. He knows what he's doing.

So were many the hundreds of thousands of sailors whom have died at sea. The ocean doesn't care about experience or arrogance when a storm comes up and drowns this guy, or the great deal of money and risk to rescuers this clown imposes should he manage to somehow not die.

Well, he's hoping to cross in the smallest yacht yet, so that pretty much constitutes a stunt.

It has squared off corners in the front... I know nothing about boats, but couldn't he have have reduced drag a bit by at least rounding off the front corners or cutting them off at a 45 degree angle -- I'm not suggesting tapering the entire front, but just rounding off 6 - 12" from the edges seems like it would help? This would reduce the interior space a bit but gaining even 1% better speed on a 90 day journey seems quite significant.

The only similarly shaped hulls I can think of are barges, but they are towed by 1000 horsepower tugboats.

The speed of a yacht is limited by the length of the hull line at water level. No matter how much horse power you put in, the boat will not exceed hull speed, it will rather sink. Given that this boat has such a tiny hull line, drag is likely a secondary concern.

Curious decision. The top part of the bow is rounded off, but not the sides, so it seems like a conscious design choice.

Edit: here's a profile picture of the hull. Maybe it's just to ease fabrication and he doesn't care too much about speed.


Not sure why I was down voted, is it well known that the common tapered hull shape is not any more efficient and faster than a squared off hull?

I didn't see any details in the article or website about the design other than that it was designed to pitch rather than roll, and tapering the front seems like it would just add to this effect.

I wish the downvoter had just said "Dumb question, everyone knows that hull shape doesn't matter on a small boat" or "He covered this exact question on his website" or given some indication why they felt this was not an appropriate question

I think I can help you out here.

> "I know nothing about boats, but...I...suggest...rounding off 6 - 12" from the edges."

That man is a professional sailor, and you know nothing about boats. I think that people don't like when a person who knows nothing decides that they know better.

> Not sure why I was down voted...I wish the downvoter had...

Please don't do this. HN comment guidelines ( https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html ) say "Please resist commenting about being downvoted. It never does any good, and it makes boring reading."

Here is a small boat project that is done by a veteran, Sven Yrvind, its a 5.76 x 1 meter boat he will sail around the world, its not his first time in a small boat in the big seas either, read more here:


But why call it a yacht? While technically correct, it does not seem to embody the spirit of the word.

Because it's a British magazine.

In the British usage of the word, a sailboat is a dinghy if it's open-top, and yacht if it has an enclosed cabin. He can close his hatch creating a sealed interior, so it's a yacht. (We very rarely use 'sailboat' alone, as Americans do.)

In the US usage, the term 'yacht' seems to be mired in classism and elitism. A boat is french's mustard, and a yacht is grey poupon. There's no simple definition to tell you when a vessel is one or the other.

Quite bizarre - given that America traditionally imagines herself as classless, you'd almost expect these two to be reversed.

> given that America traditionally imagines herself as classless, you'd almost expect these two to be reversed.

In my view more that americans of all classes view themselves in some way as part of an unified 'rebellious'/'underdog' class.. so most anything that sticks out as having any pretence is 'elitist'.. nevermind that this attitude itself has it's own flavor of pretense to false-humility.. but I digress..

I was told by my sailing instructor, with tongue slightly in cheek, that a yacht is a boat you can sleep on.

Well, as long as he speaks like Thurston Howell the third, he should be fine.


Standing on the ocean side

We can hear the waves

Calling us out with tide

To sail into our fate

Oden! Guide our ships

... (c) Amon Amarth

A ship approaches off the starboard bow

The time has come to fight, the time to strike is now

Reload the cannons, and sharpen up your swords

They will regret the day they faced the pirate horde

Who will survive no-one can tell

Come on, lets give 'em hell

... (c) Alestorm

Alas! The Marquesas!

Shun the beckoning land!

Choose the open sea instead

To whatever end!

Took down to wondrous depths

Sullen we did go

Where shapes of unwarped primal

Gliding to and fro

... (c) Ahab

"Quit playing with your dinghy!"[1]

[1] Tommy Boy - https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=vfLGKYsrCe4

How is he planning to go to the bathroom though?

I mean, he's in the middle of an ocean.. Just lean overboard.

Is that smaller hatch connected to anything when open? Looking at the pictures it's just waiting to be lost somewhere.

Where's the head on this boat?

Spinal Tap Atlantic tour?

Now do it during Atlantic hurricane season.

Taxpayers spend millions saving drug users in hospitals for their stupid decisions.

We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14379781 and marked it off-topic.

Addiction is a disease.

try it sometime, you might learn what compassion is

Not defending grandparent, but what is the intended antecedent for your "it" here?

drug addiction

Indeed, there are problems of this structure - individuals making stupid choices and shifting the costs onto others - in many areas of society. All of them should be addressed.

And strangely, a lot of people think we should both do that for free (at everyone else's expense) and that we should legalize the drugs that put them there.

I admit I am still a bit torn on the former. I do consider addiction to be a medical condition, and drug users in need of treatment. The question is where personal responsibility should factor in. At some point, if you do drugs, there was a good chance you were dumb enough to start doing them.

The drugs didn't put them there, the abuse of them did.

Should we make sugary drinks illegal, since we spend millions treating people for obesity related diseases? Or should we put speed limiters on cars, because of the cost of treating people injured in high speed accidents?

Legalization would help with the problem.

Let's make an analogy with alcohol. When alcohol isn't illegal, there is a quality supply of it. When you buy a bottle of 40% whisky, you're not getting something that might be 25% methanol due to some criminal doing an improper job with the distilling, because he only cares about money, wiping out his competitors, and evading the cops, with your health being at the bottom of his priorities.

(Which is not to say, of course, that legal alcohol eliminates the public health problem of alcoholism.)

You are assuming the problem is "bad drugs" rather than the problem just being the drugs.

Bad drugs are a huge problem, that kills many, many people. Fentanyl, anyone?

In the US, in 2012, less than 1% of the population tried opiates in the previous year. More than 5% tried opioids.

Most of the US opioid problem is from legally obtained doctor prescribed meds.

In general following medical advice is not usually seen as irresponsible.

> And strangely, a lot of people think we should both do that for free (at everyone else's expense) and that we should legalize the drugs that put them there.

Why do you consider that strange?

> And strangely, a lot of people think we should both do that for free (at everyone else's expense) and that we should legalize the drugs that put them there.

Why should we pay money to enforce a legal regime of prohibition that subsidises the most dangerous and ruthless transnational criminal organisations -- to the point that entire fucking countries get destabilised from cartels and US military intervention? Why should my tax dollars pay to enforce criminal laws that turn the crank of the "iron law of prohibition" and cause drug use to be more and more deadly (which we all end up paying for, via taxes and medical costs)? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_law_of_prohibition

Why do people think it's fine to enforce a legal regime that immiserates drug users to the point that they're willing to risk their life (I don't own guns, but lots of USians do) kicking in my door and stealing my old laptop to pawn for some overpriced fentanyl-laced drugs (sold by criminals) that might overdose them in the street? There'd be less laptops stolen out of cars and houses and less people keeling over in the streets and less "gang-related shootings" if addicts could just buy some fucking precisely-dosed pharmaceutical-grade opioids at-cost from a pharmacy.

Didn't we already try this? Murder done by organised crime combined with ineffective/corrupt police and low homicide clearance rates, along with along with severe increases in incarceration rates, increases in overdose deaths from alcohol/drug consumption (caused by higher potency and more impurities) isn't a new syndrome, it also cropped up during the 1920-1933 alcohol prohibition. Ending that prohibition slashed the murder rate. Why can't we do the same thing for drugs?

Where's the "personal responsibility" that prohibitionists need to own up to? Will they take responsibility for how their policies helped trash the US's homicide clearance rate? Is "less solved murders" worth the wondrous results that drug prohibition has given us?

The harm that drug use/manufacture causes is a lot more a function of the relevant policies/laws than the actual chemicals themselves. Indeed, most of the harm from illicit drug use comes from:

1. dose/concentration uncertainty or potential contamination with higher-potency drugs -- like unexpected fentanyl inside heroin

2. contamination with unwanted or dangerous chemicals (from manufacturing / distribution processes) -- such as https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MPTP or cutting agents

3. Poly-drug use: combining any two of {opioids, benzos, alcohol} to exploit synergistic effects -- which can easily result in respiratory depression

4. Designer drugs: using a less tested / more dangerous compound because the better tested and safer one is prohibited.

All of these are either caused or significantly worsened by prohibition and can be much more readily avoided without prohibition. Those harms are not inherent to drug use; indeed, people who have adequate access to pharmaceutical-grade opioids can safely use them for decades without any major medical complications.

what is the point

This got downvoted, but IMO it's a legitimate question. Just because it's possible to attempt something, doesn't mean that it should be done or that it's a good idea.

Does anyone have any better answer than "to set a record", or "just because"?

I do give the guy props for taking it seriously. Given the constraints he has imposed on himself he seems very well prepared. But, together with the parent poster, I just can't see the point.

Why do people climb mountains? Why do people swim? Why do people build things? Why do people bother getting up in the morning? What's the point in living?

I feel bad for putting it that way, especially if someone younger reads it, because this can lead to developing a cynical world view that isn't necessarily valid. I'm not trying to give you an existential crisis or something, but go down the (thought) avenue completely if you're taking a trip to that destination, don't just stop in the middle of the road. People do things because they enjoy them or simply want to; life is hopefully enjoyable for most, and then sadly but inevitably we all die one day.

I'm often not sure why people bother getting up in the morning.

To quote Spock:

"Perhaps 'because it is there' is not sufficient reason for climbing a mountain?"

There is no point. Entropy keeps increasing.

This guy set himself a clear goal and is trying to achieve it. It probably brings him some fulfillment regardless of the result.

What is the point of anything? Why do you get out of bed every morning and not just lie there waiting to die instead?

Let me rephrase 'what's the point' to 'have any meaning'. I think that captures what you're trying to get across, but i could be way way wrong (please enlighten me if i am wrong). Why on earth would someone waste time on such a meaningless activity?

Meaning is a really hard thing for me to pin down. Most people go to work, not because work is fun, but because they want money. to them, it's real, meaningful security. It's a place to live and food to eat. The 'meaning' is pretty clear. Some of those people work to provide for their families. These are pretty clear, easy examples.

I screw around reading hacker news, and getting into discussions, because sometimes they're really fun. The meaning, for me, is exposure to other viewpoints and ways of thinking about the world. I do have to admit, i'm probably getting my life sucked out of me doing this, five minutes at a time, with silly comments like these. But i rationalize and such, and invest these conversations with meaning.

As far as i can tell, there's really only two possible ways to have meaning. Stuff that i think is important (poor word choice. Stuff i'm perhaps emotionally invested in, or enjoy, or am attracted to). The other way is theological. I'm not a theological person, so i'll set that aside as meaningless. But i'm happy to follow that sort of argument if you want to make it. Again, i'm here for the viewpoint, because that's the part that has meaning to me.

Perhaps this is all rambling nonsense. I'll try to make some sort of point. Do you do anything meaningful for a reason other than it's important to you or (maybe) your god? For any reason you pick, i can find you a person that made a different choice. For example, you chose to spend some time on HN tonight. I can guarantee my mom didn't spend any time on this site.

You (or maybe your god) invests the world with meaning. You get to pick how to spend your day. I get to pick how to spend my day. We probably don't make the same choices. The boat guy, he makes very different choices than both of us. But that's ok. The choices we make probably look just as pointless to him as his choices do to us.

We'll all be dead soon enough. I'd encourage you to let people doing weird stuff just be weird - as long as you feel they're not endangering the rest of us somehow. That guy is going to try a crazy thing. I also think it's meaningless. But it's not meaningless to him. I'd suggest that criticizing someone for trying a meaningless thing is even more meaningless.

you're going to die someday buddy. Do stuff that means something to you.

Man I envy that you were able to speak your mind... you know how many minutes/versions I spent agonizing over my initial response. This seems like obvious troll-material like our dear President Trump. Anyway not related to that but I have this habit of pleasing people and not saying no/speaking my mind. Fuck that. I saw this and thought it was stupid. It's a guy sitting in a square box with a mast on it. That was my initial reaction.

Granted after reading I see there is research. It has a lid/cover/emergency floatation. Also granted, it's something of an "achievement' not just strutting around bragging about nothing.

Edit: Although why do I care, let this guy push boundaries, good luck and have fun, be safe. This guy's out there doing something rather than complaining about life or whatever... I am the problem here. I can't choose a side. I don't know who I am... hahaha. Sad.

these people sometimes bother me because when they got lost or trapped, taxpayers then spend millions to save them.

It's interesting because I live in a country where being rescued is free as a rule[1]. And I find it nice: I know that if shit happens in the mountains, the helicopter will come, no need to be rich to hike or sail. And I'm happy to be paying other people's rescue when they are in need. A couple friend of mine had to call a rescue team when their rope got tangled when repealing down a cliff, no need to feel bad.

[1]doesn't apply to ski resorts

I like this response.

I'd also point out -- taxpayers spend millions on training exercises for these same crews so that the teams will know how to rescue people who need rescuing from more "acceptable according to grandparent" perils. Seems like rescuing a few crazy people attempting insane stunts could justifiably be rolled over into the training budget for these teams ...

Lol, I know when I hiked into Canada, they were very clear that you should have your credit card in hand and ready to pay the $2k charge if they had to use a helicopter to get you out of there. Apparently they've had more than a few people ready to pay the parks service for said service when getting to the top of the pass!

Everything else was included in the minimal day use fee, saw one guy take an abridged version of the hike (due to injury), whereby they covered the finger lakes on boat, and hiked by the short rapids in the slot valleys.

On another note, Parker's Trail is horrible, and when they actually hike the Chilkoot trail they successfully picked the absolute shittiest of conditions (not quite snow, but a slushy, slippery mess). In the summer, it isn't terrible to boulder up, and I found it to be quite an enjoyable trip, got really lucky with some great views & conditions.

Which country is that? Does this rule apply to tourists as well?

France, and yes.

France, like much of Europe, is well covered by towns and cities. So there is often not a great distance for emergency services to cover which means the cost of mounting a rescue will not be excessive.

As a counter point, Australia is sparsely populated. Apart from the coastal cities it is often hundreds of kilometers between towns or road houses. So the cost of mounting a land rescue can get into the tens of thousands of dollars.

Also there is a lot of ocean area for which Australia is the closest landmass. There have been numerous ocean rescues mounted from Australia for sailors competing in round the world races or record attempts, some of them soloists:





These rescues have cost hundreds to millions of dollars each and generally have been paid for by Australian tax payers as noted in some of the articles.

So yes it is nice that you will be rescued. But these people all put themselves in a dangerous position for their own entertainment/ego and needed rescue at great expense to others. The millions that were spent for some of the rescues needed to be diverted from services/programs that would have benefited the taxpayers.

The geographic and population distribution differences between countries means that some countries will end up with a larger bill than others for mounting such rescues.

For this guy trying to prove something by sailing the smallest boat, if he can't take out "rescue" insurance, he should not go. Alternatively, he could also arrange for a support vessel to follow close by in case he needs assistance.

we're talking north Atlantic here, not southern oceans, there will be a lot of people around.

it's not free, it's just free of payment by person in need, but someone has to pay the bill, seem pretty selfish

Yes, It's a public insurance paid for by taxes.


"He set off from La Gomera in the Canary Islands on 6 April, but returned after concerns about his boat’s seaworthiness.

He explains: “I wasn’t really in too much danger, [but] there was a weak point in the boat that was concerning me. The emergency floatation system component that was on the rudder assembly was getting hammered so hard in these really close together waves. The float was getting jammed upwards so fast and so often the boat’s movement couldn’t keep up.

“It was the worst, most unpredictable and erratic conditions I have ever sailed in with that boat. When it started gusting 45 knots I decided that I shouldn’t keep going with such an obvious weak link.”"

Actually, the boat sounds very cool. It's 5 feet deep, but sits low in the water and has extra storage; 40 gallons of water with pump-operated purification, and 6 months worth of food. I have to think it would have been worth it to go just a little bigger in order to have enough room to fully lie down, though.

I don't know what the policy of the Coast Guard is, but increasingly a lot of states have made it so you have to pay the cost of your rescue if it was due to gross negligence. A family friend is part of the Upper Valley Wilderness Rescue Team (the ones who'd be saving you if you got lost in the White Mountains in New Hampshire), and they have been sending bills to the clueless for a little while now (people who were prepared and just the victim of unfortunate circumstances do not pay). This guy in his microboat would probably qualify as a payer if he got in trouble.

How do you define gross negligence? This guy seems anything but.

Unless the argument is that wanting to cross the atlantic itself is gross negligence, but that's slippery slope to "anything but staying home and watching TV like a good citizen is gross negligence".

Many people cross the Atlantic every year in relatively (not like this) small boats every year. There are common procedures and knowledge available to people that do that, see here for example: http://www.yachtingmonthly.com/archive/arc-safety-checklist-...

Examples of gross negligence: being dismasted in low or moderate wind conditions because lack of maintenance to the rigging and/or motor failing because of lack of a fuel filtering system, departing when conditions are obviously not favorable (wind against current in the Gulf Stream off the US coast).

There is no such thing as a clear line but it can be established for each case I think.

Well, no one is paying millions, everyone is paying a dollar or 10. If you'd rather use that for a few drinks, go for it.

I'll pay my taxes knowing that someone got cared for or saved, and that one day I might be the one needing that saving.

I love reading about those sailing across the Pacific or Atlantic in tiny boats but this guy is going to instantly regret it when he hits a 20 foot swell.

Say hello to Poseidon for me!

>He set off from La Gomera in the Canary Islands on 6 April, but returned after concerns about his boat’s seaworthiness.

Don't you mean attempted?

He did actually set off.

The original title of the submission said he was breaking the record.

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