(ABC News) – Duane Hansen says he knew if he was going to break the world record for pumpkin sailing, he had to grow the pumpkin himself.

A Nebraska farmer who has been growing 200- to 400-pound gourds for a decade, Hansen seemed well suited to the task.

So when his giant pumpkin, Berta, started adding 15 pounds a day, he set to work building it into a makeshift boat, which he said would carry him 38 miles down the Missouri River from Bellevue in Nebraska City.

Last Saturday, in an 846-pound pumpkin, the day after he turned 60, he set sail, hoping to break the Guinness World Record by 25 miles.

When asked by ABC News if he had a few minutes to talk about his experience, he laughed and said, of course, he was just having a beer to pass the time.

He described how, before he could send his pumpkin into the river, he had to dig it out and make sure it would float. With a single viable pumpkin big enough to hold it, he couldn’t afford to make a mistake, he said.

“You have to look at this pumpkin and, well, what do I do to get it ready to go down the river for 38 miles? And I did.” His thing, he says: common sense.

“You know, I didn’t go to college or anything. I can’t say I’m such a smart guy, but I say I understand physics,” he said. “Common sense will take you far.”

The first step, he said, was to make a boat that would float. But with a deformed pumpkin weighing nearly 850 pounds, Hansen said he had to ask, which way?

So he built a cement hot tub to test his pumpkin’s buoyancy. “I wanted to float it to see where the top is. Because, you know, it’s not a round pumpkin. And I think, if I go down the river in this thing, I want to sit in the very high, so it’s level at least,” he said.

After transporting his huge pumpkin to his homemade hot tub, he scored the top, cut it out, and carved the inside.

At this point, the ship itself was standing, he said. But his hot tub wasn’t the Missouri River. Using a forklift and boat trailer, he pulled his pumpkin boat to shore.

“And all the while, when I move this pumpkin, it can fall. There can be so many things that can go wrong. And I was lucky. I mean, I thought about it a lot,” did he declare. “But still, there’s always something I can’t think of that can go wrong.”

At 7:30 a.m. Saturday, Hansen said, he boarded his floating pumpkin ship for his nearly 12-hour journey. His wife, children, family and friends followed if anything went wrong.

He claims to have broken the world record at 2:52 p.m. and completed his trip to Nebraska City around 6:30 p.m.

Hansen had hoped it would be an 8-10 hour expedition. “I was wrong,” he growled. With the current moving at around 3.5 miles per hour downstream, her journey took a grueling 12 hours.

He said he wasn’t sure he would make it.

For fuel, his support boat provided “a sandwich and they had beers on the boat, you know, stuff like that”. Other than that, “they can’t help you. You know, for the record, I mean, I’m on my own, basically,” he said.

The trip, according to Hansen and his friends, was exhausting.

“I can’t get up. No. Because if I got up in there, just straight up, it was probably going to pass, and I didn’t want to take that risk,” he said. “I’ve been working on this for five years. I don’t want to mess it up just because I want to get up and stretch my knees, you know? I had a hard time getting up once I got out of the pumpkin patch and I had to stand for a minute or two or three, my knees hurt a lot.

The pumpkin boat was wobbling and rocking, he said, making it difficult to navigate.

“It’s like taking a 4 by 4 by 4 foot cork and blowing a hole in it. And trying to sit in it and balance yourself in that water and it’s tough. You have to be careful 100% of the time . “

A major concern was that the pumpkin would flood or overturn. “Every time a boat came by, you just had to take this pumpkin and you had to roll with it and ride them until the waves died down. It was one of the worst things,” he said. declared.

No sailing trip would be complete without having to brave the elements. Eight miles north of Nebraska City, it started to rain, and Hansen, wearing only denim shorts and a tank top, says he got cold.

“I thought, I’ll just paddle harder and warm up,” he told the Omaha World-Herald. “I rode another 4-5 miles and it rained again. Berta was only about eight inches above the waterline. I have never been so careful for so long in my entire life. life.”

Ten years ago, in failure after failure, he says, he was inspired by a seminar on growing giant pumpkins in Portland, Oregon.

“I saw a deal on a table where this lady had actually floated a pumpkin down a river, and it’s in the Guinness Book of World Records,” he said. “I’m like, I want to do this. That’s my goal here.”

On Saturday, Hansen said, he was spotted by onlookers along the river, much to his surprise. “You have to understand, I didn’t do this to get attention. And I didn’t think a lot of people knew that. And that’s fine with me because I just wanted the record to go down the river.”

But having people cheering him on was indescribable, he said.

“That last one, I don’t know, two or three miles, I was tired. I was cold from the rain. It was 2-3 miles long. And I come around the corner and I see the marina and there was probably, I don’t even know, 100 or 150 people there cheering,” he said. “And I’m like, ‘Oh my God, oh my God.’

Members of the Bellevue City Mayor’s Office witnessed and documented his trip for the Guinness Book of World Records on Facebook. Guinness officials could not be reached for comment.

So what’s next for Hansen? He and his daughter have even bigger plans, literally. “She said dad, so I had this idea. Why don’t you grow a pumpkin big enough for two people to fit in and we’ll go down the river. So I’m actually considering that if I can get a big enough pumpkin.”

One capable of holding two people should weigh between 1800 and 2000 pounds.