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Garry Crothers returns home to Derry

by Daria Blackwell 10 Jul 2020 09:19 UTC
Garry Crothers returns home to Derry © Derry Now

One-armed sailor, Garry Crothers, sailed solo 3,500 miles across the Atlantic on his Ovni 435 Kind of Blue from Sint Maarten to Northern Ireland.

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit the Caribbean and borders closed virtually overnight, Garry was stuck on his boat in Sint Maarten without crew. Because all flights were cancelled, his crew could not reach him. He also could not haul the boat and fly home so he reached the decision to sail home alone.

Garry joined the OCC Atlantic Crossing group early on and availed of the information shared among the more than 1000 members of the group announcing intentions to cross the Atlantic to return home or at least safe harbour before the hurricane season hit. Kind of Blue departed on May 29, intending to cross directly without stopping in the Azores as he didn't want to deal with any more manoeuvres than necessary.

Garry sailed conservatively, reducing sail at night and resting as necessary. His main goal was to stay safely on the boat. OCC member Alex Blackwell, who was monitoring the group and managing contacts with PredictWind who set up a tracker service for the fleet free of charge, kept in daily contact with Garry via IridiumGo.

The conditions in the Atlantic were highly unusual this year. Strong headwinds alternated with vast areas with no wind. Kind of Blue has two fuel tanks but something was preventing the fuel from circulating from the second tank. In the last stretch, Garry faced an area of very light wind followed by a strong gale. To avoid the gale, he'd have to stop in the Republic of Ireland overnight or power through the calm and ride the periphery of the low pressure system to reach the Foyle before the full brunt of the gale arrived. He fixed the fuel supply issue and chose to power through.

Yesterday, 4th of July, just after 3 pm Garry reached his home port with an escort of yachts from Loch Swilly Yacht Club. As a member of Foyle Sailability, Garry has become a role model for all sailors with disabilities, proving that much can be accomplished with the right attitude and a healthy dose of seamanship. Welcome home, Garry!

This article has been provided by the courtesy of the Ocean Cruising Club.

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