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Afloat.ie: Atlantic Crossing is not plain sailing for quadriplegic Geoff Holt

15th December 2009
Afloat.ie: Atlantic Crossing is not plain sailing for quadriplegic Geoff Holt

Disabled yachtsman Geoff Holt is just six days into his Atlantic crossing and is experiencing a number of challenges as he makes is first transatlantic crossing for 25 years. Geoff was most worried about sleep deprivation during the voyage and this has been compounded by the fact that the 60 foot catamaran, Impossible Dream, is being tossed in all directions from a disturbed Atlantic swell and light winds, making comfortable sleeping practically impossible. On top of this Geoff has found that in sitting for long periods in his wheelchair his ankles have swollen and he is experiencing spasms in his feet.

In the last 24 hours Impossible Dream has been barely averaging 5 knots, needing to reach at least 7.5 knots to make it to Tortola for the target of December 27th. Geoff is hoping the tradewinds will make up for lost time but the forecast for the next 3 days is for light South Westerly headwinds, slowing progress and not helping to clear the irregular sea state.

Geoff comments, “Impossible Dream is bobbing like a cork, pitching and yawing, snatching and jerking, her 60ft length belying her skinny 17 tonnes as she gets picked up and slapped broadside by the seas.  I have found the last few days really tough indeed. It is difficult enough existing in a wheelchair in a house that does not move but negotiating my chair around Impossible Dream is like riding a unicycle on a rollercoaster.”

Geoff’s carer Susana is also finding life onboard the boat very difficult. On her first Atlantic crossing, and longest stint at sea, the 28 year old had hoped that she would quickly adapt to the motion of the boat but her sea sickness is making each day a real challenge. Instead of feeling better the further they travel, Susana thinks that she has got worse.

Impossible Dream works on push button technology however as Geoff has no movement in his wrist, hand or fingers, simply pushing the buttons to control the vessel is proving difficult.. “Controlling my arms so I may use my knuckles to push a button on the radar is made all the more difficult by the constant motion of Impossible Dream, it's as though my arm has no spacial control.  My knuckles are red raw from continually pushing wrong buttons on the instrument panels.”

Published in News Update
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