5ft 4 Inch “Father’s Day” Is The Smallest Boat To Ever Cross The Atlantic Ocean
Sailed by Hugo Vihlen from Newfoundland to England, “Father’s Day” is the smallest boat to ever cross the Atlantic Ocean
In September 1993, lone sailor Hugo Vihlen made it to Falmouth after spending 105 days crossing the Atlantic Ocean by himself. While he was not the first to make the crossing, he was, in fact, the first to use a boat that only measured five feet and four inches, making it the smallest boat to ever cross the Atlantic.
This wasn’t the first time Vihlen made the trek, either. Back in 1968, he made the same trip in a slightly larger boat the April Fool, which measured five feet and eleven inches. Unfortunately, the April Fool was six and a half inches larger than Tom McNally’s five foot, four and a half inch boat which he sailed Across the Atlantic in 1993, claiming the Word Record for smallest boat to cross the ocean.
Bound and determined to beat McNally’s record, the former Delta Airline Captain and Korean War veteran set out to make the sail from Newfoundland to Falmouth after the United States Coastguard banned him from launching in US waters, due to the boat’s safety.
The captain of the tiny ship had bent his knees while sleeping on his back, waking every hour to check his heading and general sailing conditions. Vihlen finally hit shore at Falmouth 105 days later, barely able to walk due to his inability to stretch out properly on the ship. He also lost a total of thirty-four pounds while at sea. Having gone through rough waters, storms and crossing much larger boats, Vihlen later said that there were times when he thought he would never see his wife and family again.
Father’s Day was later donated to the National Maritime Museum at Cornwall in 2006 and is now part of its Boat Collection.
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