NATIONAL MARITIME MUSEUM: FATHER’S DAY, THE SMALLEST BOAT TO CROSS THE ATLANTIC OCEAN
Currently on display at the National Maritime Museum is one of the smallest boats to cross the Atlantic Ocean: Father’s Day. The boat’s designer and maker, Hugo Vihlen, sailed from Newfoundland, Canada to Falmouth in the vessel that was had no room for luxuries, no room for non-essentials – and barely any room for him.
During the crossing, Hugo had to sleep on his back with his knees bent: he woke every hour to check his heading and general sailing conditions, as a consequence of which he never drifted more than 10 miles off course. After facing everything the Atlantic could throw at him, and some close encounters with large ships, Hugo arrived in Falmouth 105 days later. He could hardly walk, had lost 34 pounds in weight, but he had recaptured his record.
His reception on arrival in Falmouth was hardly a hero’s welcome. One of the waiting journalists found him a pasty to eat while his boat was towed to a local yacht club. When the party arrived at the yacht club for a celebration tea they found it closed as he wasn’t expected, so a member of the public produced a bottle of champagne to toast his success.
Sixteen years later, along with his boxy bright red boat Father’s Day, he, perhaps unsurprisingly, still holds the World Record for sailing across the Atlantic Ocean in the smallest boat.
Father’s Day is currently on display in the Main Hall of the National Maritime Museum.