Bonkers world of Microyacht adventures
Published on November 28th, 2022
What are the smallest boats sailors consider for crossing and ocean? For ‘microyacht’ voyagers, there’s no limit. Yachting World’s Elaine Bunting finds out why they put to sea in tiny vessels:
Often the smallest boats to cross oceans look much like a child’s crayon picture of a little boat on a big sea, certainly Yann Quenet’s Baluchon does. Baluchon is only 13ft 1in (4m long), with one simple sail and a stubby, blunt-nosed hull painted cherry red and ice cream white.
Baluchon is no toy, though. When Quenet sailed it back to Brittany in August, he had fulfilled his childhood ambition of circumnavigating in a tiny boat. Its simple appearance is emblematic of his philosophy. “I have loved little boats since I was a child,” he says, “and I am still a child at heart. Sailing round the world on a little boat is something I have dreamed about since I was a teenager.”
Quenet, now 51, has dedicated much of his adult life to designing, building and sailing microyachts. Whereas most of us progress in incrementally larger boats, Quenet’s craft have always been minuscule. He has created numerous self-build designs for plywood construction from a 9m gaffer to a 5m trimaran and a 6.5m gaff yawl (see them at boat-et-koad.com).
In 2015, Quenet attempted to cross the Atlantic in a 14ft 1in (4.3m) plywood scow, but it capsized in a storm off the coast of Spain and he was rescued by a ship. After that experience he resolved to come up with a bulletproof self-righting microyacht suitable for ocean sailing, and went back to the drawing board.
His solution was a pram-style design that could be built in plywood in under 4,000 hours and would cost no more than €4,000. Baluchon is the result, a tiny boat to be sailed by one person for up to six weeks at a time and resilient enough to take anything the oceans throw at it. – Full report