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Ireland’s One-Armed Transatlantic Solo Sailor Halfway Home from Caribbean

17th June 2020
Fair winds for the Ovni 435 Kind of Blue, with skipper Garry Crothers taking it easy on the foredeck. Usually he sails with at least two others on board and can relax like this, but for the current Transatlantic voyage home, he’s very much on his own as he faces the extra challenge of being one-armed Fair winds for the Ovni 435 Kind of Blue, with skipper Garry Crothers taking it easy on the foredeck. Usually he sails with at least two others on board and can relax like this, but for the current Transatlantic voyage home, he’s very much on his own as he faces the extra challenge of being one-armed

Garry Crothers of Lough Swilly YC, who has refused to let life-changing injuries from a horrific motorcycle accident prevent him from fulfilling his dream of sailing the oceans, is now better than halfway home across the Atlantic in his Ovni 435 Kind of Blue, sailing the 3,500 miles from Sint Maarten in the Caribbean to his berth in Derry on Lough Foyle.

Normally Garry (66) would sail with two others, as the prolonged after-effects of his accident eventually resulted in the amputation of his left arm. But the imposition of strict COVID-19 travel restrictions in the vulnerable Caribbean islands meant that the crew intending to fly out to join him for the homeward passage from the Dutch island were unable to do so.

The ingenious Ovni 435 – an aluminium-built ocean voyager The ingenious Ovni 435 – an aluminium-built ocean voyager with a lifting keel which facilitates extra cruising in very shoal waters – is big enough to be quite a challenge for a fully-fit solo sailor and a very real challenge for a one-armed sailor on his own

Having drawn a blank in recruiting even one shipmate from among the already depleted group of ocean voyagers in Saint Maarten, he decided he that he and his boat Kind of Blue would have to do it on their own, encouraged by the fact that he had already logged a five day solo passage in his extensive cruising during the past two years.

We’ll be looking at the remarkable Crothers story - and how his oceanic progress is continuing - in more detail this weekend in Sailing on Saturday. But for now, the good news is that, after departing on June 1st and finding some slow – at times extremely slow – sailing through the light winds which have plagued the Atlantic between the Caribbean and the Azores, he is now making a smooth 6 knots in the right direction, with Kind of Blue in the strategically useful position of being around 500 miles west nor’west of the Azores.

Her speeds have picked up to a more regular five to six knots as she and her lone skipper start to get into the Atlantic westerlies out to the northwest of the persistent Azores high pressure area. There’s a long way to go yet, but the achievements of Kind of Blue and her skipper are already remarkable, and we look forward to returning to this story on Saturday.

The indomitable Garry Crothers at home aboard Kind of BlueThe indomitable Garry Crothers at home aboard Kind of Blue

Published in Cruising, Solo Sailing
WM Nixon

About The Author

WM Nixon

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William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland for many years in print and online, and his work has appeared internationally in magazines and books. His own experience ranges from club sailing to international offshore events, and he has cruised extensively under sail, often in his own boats which have ranged in size from an 11ft dinghy to a 35ft cruiser-racer. He has also been involved in the administration of several sailing organisations.

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