View Full Version : The smallest boat to circumnavigate

Jack Heinlen
12-12-2003, 08:07 AM
Which is it?

John Bell
12-12-2003, 08:24 AM
Serge Testa aboard Acrohc Australis, about 12' LOA.

Jack Heinlen
12-12-2003, 08:30 AM
Say some more John.

I'm having this uncanny urge this morning to sail around the world. Not that I would try to do it in a smaller boat; just soliciting.

John Bell
12-12-2003, 08:43 AM
Testa circumnavigated from 84-87 starting out from Brisbane, AU. The boat was a self designed aluminum hull, that was a shade under 12' when he started out and modified en-route by the addition of a bowsprit to a final LOA to a shade under 14'.

He wrote and self published a book about his experience titled 500 Days Around the World in a 12' Boat.

See this web site (http://www.btinternet.com/~w.serjeant/dinghy/dinghy_files/serg.htm) for some rather poor scans of his boat and a little more info on the trip.

If it were me, I'd rather do it in a 35 to 40'er with a companion or two. Five hundred days in a 12' tin coffin sounds like a pretty miserable time.

12-12-2003, 10:57 AM
There was a guy from Russia came thru here a couple years ago. I believe he was in a 12' boat and was last heard from somewhere south of the United States in the pacific?? Maybe someone else knows more about this guy? I know he was a guest of some folks at the yacht club for several days. I don't hang out with that bunch so don't have many facts.

12-12-2003, 11:31 AM
Originally posted by Jack Heinlen:
Which is it?Flicka 20. Couples have been all over in them.

12-12-2003, 11:34 AM
........and 8 foot kayak bought at WAL-MART.

12-12-2003, 03:35 PM
Acrohc Australis
I've got Testa's book (on loan from John Welsford). Ugh! From his descriptions it was a long, terribly uncomfortable torture bouncing around in a metal can. The cabin fire at sea didn't help much either. Happy, at 14', seems almost palatial in comparison!

<a href="http://www.microcruising.com/" target="_blank">
http://www.microcruising.com/ (http://www.microcruising.com/</a>)[/url] has an annotated list of the various micro circumnavigators with some links.

John Welsford is in the process of finishing up a design for a 17.5' blue water cruiser, called Swaggie, for someone, otherwise unknown to me, that we affectionately call the "daft aussie". He wants to sail from Australia to Chile nonstop.

Related: the shortest transat record is 5'4" in 1993: Father's Day.

Someone is currently attempting to better it in a 3'11" boat, the Vera Hugh II! :eek:

[ 12-12-2003, 04:46 PM: Message edited by: Meerkat ]

12-12-2003, 05:36 PM
Hey, Jack I've been feeling wanderlusty for a coupla weeks now too!

I love Jay Benford's 'Happy' design - 14 footer made it to the south pacific before hitting a reef and being no more.

12-12-2003, 05:51 PM
Another Happy pic

I've been told they're tricky to build. The curves push the limits of what you can do with cold moulding.

Happy II

Paul Fisher has drawn up the Mini-8

L.W. Baxter
12-12-2003, 09:21 PM
I don't know about circumnavigating, but I read somewhere a rather astounding tale of a Chinese fellow who built a coracle of ox-hide, loaded up his family of four, and "sailed" five hundred miles across the South China Sea.

I imagine him poised on the beach with the coracle he built with his own desperate hands. The eyes of his hungry children. His furrow-browed wife, standing hands on hips, studying the sea.

Must have been the hardest kind of life that drove them out onto the water.

Paul Pless
12-13-2003, 03:26 PM
You should pick up A Speck on the Sea , by William H. Longyard; subtitled, Epic Voyages in the Most Improbable Vessles . This book describes about two hundred voyages starting in 63 AD to present. It includes transoceanic, long river trips, and circumnavigations. Its a pretty fascinating book that you can pickup and read 10-12 pages at a time about somebody's voyage. Pretty well documented and includes a good bibliography.

This book cemented for me that being an adrenaline junky is not a new thing, people have been doing these journeys for a couple hundred years now.

One story that sticks out in my mind is that of Francis Brenton. He found out that the Field Museum in Chicago wanted a Cuna Indian dugout canoe from the Amazon. So in 1966 he goes up the Amazon buys two dugout canoes from the Indians, I think he traded some canned food for the boats. He lashes them together with some vines, puts a sprit schooner rig on it and sails down river, north to Carribean, up the west coast of Florida and over to the Mississippi Delta. Here he buys an antique outboard, rebuilds it and motors up the Mississippi to the Illinoise and then to Chicago.

It is said that the museum officials weren't expecting him, had not officially contracted with anybody yet to actually procure a canoe. Nonetheless they were quite happy with the sample and did buy it from him.

From there, Benton, bought a kayak which he filled with supplies and towed behind the remaining dugout. He sailed through the Great Lakes and out into the Atlantic and accross to Europe. Here he attempted to recross the Atlantic and come back to America by Balloon. He was going to use the kayak as the gondola under a homemade hyrogen balloon. At the launching, when he gave the order to cut the tethers, somebody goofed and left one tether uncut. Well the gondala turned upside down, Brenton falls out onto the ground, and accidentally cuts the one remaining tether. The balloon takes off without him and subsequently has to be shot down as a navigation danger to aircraft.

Another book to look into is Vito Dumas' account of his circumnavigation through The Roaring Forties at the height of World War II.


Wild Wassa
12-15-2003, 08:01 PM
A chap, I think his name was Franz Stupp, travelled from Germany to Australia in a sailing canoe. He started sailing his canoe to escape from the Nazis. The journey took three years, and when he arrived in Australia, to where he was escaping, he was immediately arrested and interned for the duration, as Australia had entered WW2 while he was hugging the coast off Malaya. He arrived in 1939, bad timing.

Another chap intended sailing an 11ft Mirror Dinghy, from Dover to Calais and back as a weekend trip (80 kilometres return). Six months later he was in Iraq. He said that he enjoyed it so much he kept going. The Suez Canal was the only difficult bit, ... rules and regs. This is a great story to tell kids who sail little Mirror dinghies. I'm amazed at this journey, ... if you have ever sailed a Mirror, ... they are so slow.

Obviously any boat is possible as a coast hugger.

Last year I worked with a bloke from Cambodia, who came to Australia in an open wooden boat, "7ft wide," he said. With him were another 46 refugees, ... through storms and pirates. I couldn't convince him to come out in the dinghies. He said working on the boats was good therapy though, but didn't want to set foot on a boat again. Very understandable, ... after his first and only boat ride. He told me that every day felt like his last, on the boat. I feel like that in a Mirror.


[ 12-15-2003, 11:00 PM: Message edited by: Wild Wassa ]

12-17-2003, 02:34 AM
Gerald, that Russian bloke arrived in Darwin early this year I think. Passport wasn't valid, while he was sailing his country dissapeared and the idiots arrested him! However it was sorted and he eventually went on his way again.
Hi boat was built on and to the dimensions of his flat's balcony and lowered by rope when finished. It's very small and he's very tall but he certainly seemed content. smile.gif

Bruce Taylor
12-17-2003, 12:00 PM
Gerald, that Russian bloke arrived in Darwin early this year I think. Passport wasn't valid, while he was sailing his country dissapeared and the idiots arrested himI've been waiting to hear news about this guy since he blew past Chile a couple of years back. His journey was well known in Latin America, I think, but got almost no attention up here.

Good to hear he's still around. Did you get his name? I got a name from a Chilean buddy of mine, but got no hits with it on Google.

The Chilean coast guard gave him a hard time, too...no safety gear on board.

[ 12-17-2003, 01:02 PM: Message edited by: Bruce Taylor ]

12-18-2003, 02:38 AM
try a query here
I think they interceded on his part.
Don't remember his name but I'll have a look in local news files and get back to you.

12-18-2003, 03:17 AM
Eugeniy Gvozdev (Aus. news) or Evgny Gvoznev

Here is the 3,70 m (12') micro-cruiser, SAID from Russia. Evgny Gvoznev left from the Caspian Sea, crossed the Mediterranean and the Atlantic to reach Argentina. After passing the Magellan Straits safely to reach Chile, he next sailed across the Pacific. Not long ago he arrived at Port Darwin in the Northern Territory of Australia. Unfortunately, his Russian passport had expired while he was still at sea, and he was stuck in Port Darwin until a new passport could be sent to him. The latest news we've heard as of 9-10-02 is that he has now left Australia and he is on his way to South Africa.

[ 12-18-2003, 04:22 AM: Message edited by: Meerkat ]

Bruce Taylor
12-18-2003, 08:10 AM
Alright! Thanks, Meerkat.

I love this man! He's nearly 70, and built his boat on a balcony. He hails from Mahatchkala, in Dagestan. (Amazing people the Dagestani...I spent a few days there in the early nineties, hunting for Soumak carpets).




[ 12-18-2003, 09:17 PM: Message edited by: Bruce Taylor ]

12-18-2003, 06:42 PM
Wow!!!! Now there is a guy that is rough, tough and hard to bluff, with an iron will! I would like to be able to read the stuff written in Russian ........ or what I assume is Russian?
They tell me, that while he was here the yacht club presented him with some nice Gaucho boots (South American cowboy boots). He turned them down ...... not enough room.
Thanks for the information. I will pass this on to the newspaper. They ran the story when he was here so a follow up is in order.
Gerald Niffenegger

Bruce Taylor
12-18-2003, 08:20 PM
More about Gvozdev:




12-18-2003, 08:57 PM
Get in touch with a guy called Jim Betts. He co-designed a small sailboat called So-Du-It with Ted Brewer. Several years ago he had a hairbrain idea to create a race of small motorboats to circumnavigate in legs. He couldn't get enough sponsors.He has a fetish for traveling on water in small vessels. Regards, ---Bill

12-18-2003, 11:15 PM
Originally posted by Gerald:
Wow!!!! Now there is a guy that is rough, tough and hard to bluff, with an iron will! A most accurate description! I too wished I could read the site.

10-27-2008, 10:08 AM
Wow!!!! Now there is a guy that is rough, tough and hard to bluff, with an iron will!

Evgeny Gvozdev started his 3rd circumnavigation recently. A week ago, he was somewhere in the Mediterranean. He is 75 now.

This is an offtopic here because his current boat is not that small (micro class boat, if I remember correctly). But I think it's still interesting.

His site is http://gvozdev.iwt.ru (in Russian, and there is no information about ongoing adventure yet).

John Turpin
10-27-2008, 01:51 PM
With a tiny water maker, you wouldn't need a lot of room for water storage. And, with a boat that small, you also wouldn't need a lot of room for spares and parts. The biggest need would be room for food. The boat would need to be turned into a floating cupboard before a trip of most any length. I don't care how many fish you "expect" to catch, one tends to stock up on munchies before heading across an ocean.

10-27-2008, 02:57 PM
around in ten leaves in 74 days I think.


10-foot boats, solo circumnavigation, largely unsupported. Be warned, the site will automatically resize your viewer window and you need to log in to read any of the forum, two things that have really pisse dme off about the site. It used to be much more visitor friendly.

But lots of interesting design and topic discussion.