Shipwrecked in a 12ft keelboat
Practical Boat Owner|March 2021
Despite a sinking off Portugal, French sailor Yann Quenet hasn’t been put off his microyacht circumnavigation dreams. John Jameson reports
John Jameson

Yann Quenet is a genius from Brittany I would love to meet. He is an inventor, designer, and builder of boats, mostly of marine plywood/epoxy, a material I have a great affinity with, having lived through the golden age of the Mirror, GP14 and other similar dinghies. At that time – in the 1970s – the sailing school where I worked in Brittany had 350 plywood keelboats, and dinghies, all designed and built for teaching sailing. I have circumnavigated in a home-built 10m ply/epoxy Wharram catamaran, and lived to write the book, Sea, Sun & Taraipo.

Yann is an experienced sailor. Currently he is halfway across the Pacific Ocean aboard a cheap and easy-to-build 12ft plywood keelboat named Baluchon. She is his second attempt at producing a minimalist ocean-going keelboat. His first attempt, Skrowl, had a similar-looking chunky, scow-shaped hull with leeboards, which he capsized off Portugal during his first attempt to cross the Atlantic in a 12ft micro-yacht. This is the story of his rescue.

His ill-fated voyage commenced in August 2015 from A Coruña in Northern Spain after he’d towed his boat there from France. When he was 450 miles short of Madeira he was overtaken by a gale, which the boat seemed to handle well, as she ran downwind. However, that night Yann was stretched out on the cabin sole, with the hatch wide open, when he was suddenly woken by a loud crash, and what felt like a bucketful of water on his head. He was catapulted forwards in a deluge of seawater and floating gear. His automatic lifejacket that he wore 24/7, inflated, and he found himself pinned to the new deck-head… the cabin sole! Skrowl had somersaulted in an exceptional wave, filled rapidly, and was now in a stable upside-down position, with Yann in an air pocket inside, gurgling cold seawater.

Disorientated but calm, he felt his way in the darkness for the torch clip, but the torch wasn’t there. Fortunately, a ghostly light drifted by – the tablet/plotter in its waterproof zipped bag. Then he remembered a cheap torch, searched for it, and managed to switch it on. To his surprise it worked.

By torchlight, the scene looked even more eerie, as oars and all the gear that had been carefully stowed, floated to the surface of the air pocket.

Adding to the confusion was the fact that everything on the right was now on the left. Before diving for the EPIRB (and having to remove his lifejacket to do so), Yann had to reverse the left-right image in his mind. Reading the EPIRB instructions with a torch in his mouth was impossible, but he pressed a few buttons and lights started to flash – bingo!

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM PRACTICAL BOAT OWNERView All

Weather forecast models and apps

Rupert Holmes unpicks the tech behind the data that underpins all weather apps and highlights his favourite software

10 mins read
Practical Boat Owner
March 2021

Short-handed harbour manoeuvres

Øyvind Bordal has some tips for single- and double-handers

4 mins read
Practical Boat Owner
March 2021

Reach for the pie

A new year: how to get fighting fit for sailing

3 mins read
Practical Boat Owner
March 2021

The long port tack to Antigua

Hermione Pattison’s family endures a tough passage when they leave the US on a tumultuous 1,600-mile beat to windward

9 mins read
Practical Boat Owner
March 2021

Becoming a boat owner

Scott Opie buys a £1,300 trailer-sailer and discovers the ups and downs of sailing

9 mins read
Practical Boat Owner
March 2021

The gospel...

Anyone can find themselves out of their depth

3 mins read
Practical Boat Owner
March 2021

Shipwrecked in a 12ft keelboat

Despite a sinking off Portugal, French sailor Yann Quenet hasn’t been put off his microyacht circumnavigation dreams. John Jameson reports

7 mins read
Practical Boat Owner
March 2021

For the simple pleasure of sailing

Looking for performance, elegance and impeccable manners from a weekender? Then the Rustler 33 is your sort of boat, says David Harding

10+ mins read
Practical Boat Owner
March 2021

Low-tide checks

Spring tides offer the chance to check out what lies beneath the usual low water mark

3 mins read
Practical Boat Owner
March 2021

A week on the Thames

Bill Howlett recalls a blissful holiday filled with gymnastics, locks and a very curious cow

7 mins read
Practical Boat Owner
March 2021
RELATED STORIES

NOTHING TO STOP YOU

WHEN PLANNING AN OCEAN PASSAGE, HOW DO YOU ENSURE YOU CAN KEEP GOING NO MATTER WHAT? RUPERT HOLMES FINDS OUT WHAT VENDÉE GLOBE SKIPPERS CAN TEACH US ABOUT MID-OCEAN REPAIRS

10+ mins read
Yachting World
May 2021

Using T-Track

T-track is a versatile product that has many great uses around the shop.

3 mins read
Popular Woodworking
February 2021

GAMES MAKER UBISOFT SHAKES UP STAFF AMID MISCONDUCT PROBE

French gaming giant Ubisoft is parting ways with its creative director and two other executives and promising zero tolerance for “toxic” staff behavior following an internal investigation of misconduct and media reports of sexual harassment and other workplace abuse.

1 min read
AppleMagazine
AppleMagazine #455

GAMES MAKER UBISOFT SHAKES UP STAFF AMID MISCONDUCT PROBE

French gaming giant Ubisoft is parting ways with its creative director and two other executives and promising zero tolerance for “toxic” staff behavior following an internal investigation of misconduct and media reports of sexual harassment and other workplace abuse.

1 min read
Techlife News
Techlife News #455

Why AI Is Terrible At Content Moderation

Every day, Facebook’s artificial intelligence algorithms tackle the enormous task of finding and removing millions of posts containing spam, hate speech, nudity, violence, and terrorist propaganda.

4 mins read
PC Magazine
September 2019

PIO woman elected prez of Oxford student union

London: Anvee Bhutani, a Punjabi whose family is from Delhi, has been elected president of Oxford university student union (OUSU) in a by-election.

1 min read
The Times of India Hyderabad
May 24, 2021

Five-star plant selection

Percy Thrower looks at the best trees for the garden

5 mins read
Amateur Gardening
May 22, 2021

Hunting Britain's Joe Exotic

BRITAIN’S TIGER KINGS – ON THE TRAIL WITH ROSS KEMP ITV, 9pm

1 min read
Irish Daily Mirror
April 06, 2021

See the blackthorn swim in snow

Bedecked with thorns so spiky it’s known as Nature’s barbed wire, the blackthorn’s delicate, starry-white flowers are also an often unreliable harbinger of spring, observes Jack Watkins

3 mins read
Country Life UK
February 24, 2021

Home alone

Can enriching a horse’s stable environment help him cope with indoor life? Andrea Oakes investigates

5 mins read
Horse & Hound
February 04, 2021