Gerry Hughes (sailor)

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Gerry Hughes is a British sailor who became the first profoundly deaf man to sail single-handed across the Atlantic Ocean. He crossed the finishing line off Castle Hill, Newport at 11:30 am local time (4:30 pm UTC) on Saturday 3 July 2005 after 35 days of sailing. Hughes also became the world's first deaf yachtsman to sail single-handed around the world to pass the five great capes - he departed Troon, Scotland on 1 September 2012 and returned to Troon on 8 May 2013.[1]


Hughes was profoundly deaf from birth. He had experience of boats since he was about 2 years old in Largs, Rhu and Inverkip. In his teenage years he was involved with a group of deaf sailors in the south of England and sailed across the English Channel.

Hughes graduated with a degree in Mathematics from the Open University. In 1995 he qualified as a teacher. He later became acting head of Donaldson's School for the Deaf in Edinburgh.

Single-handed trans-Atlantic race[edit]

In August 2004, Hughes bought a 23-year-old, 34-foot yacht. He named the yacht Quest II.

Hughes set off from Portsmouth in Quest II, but was forced to call at Cork in Ireland for repairs due to a failure of battery power. Out in the Atlantic, a few days later, the battery power failed again, resulting is the loss of use of his navigation lights, generator, laptop computer and mobile phone. He continued, making use of an oil lamp.

When he eventually reached US waters he was able to ask directions from a passing speed-boat encountered in fog. He reached Newport successfully when the fog had cleared.[2]

Sailing around the world[edit]

On 1 September 2012 Hughes left Troon, Scotland to start his eight-month journey across the world. Hughes travel around the world solo, sailed 32,000 miles and became the first deaf yachtsman to passed all five southernmost capes - Cape Agulhas, Cape Leeuwin, South East Cape, South West Cape and Cape Horn.[1]


  1. ^ a b "Disability News: Gerry Hughes Becomes First Deaf Person to Sail Round the World". Able News. BBC News. Retrieved 4 December 2015. His solo-circumnavigation lasted eight months and covered more than 32,000 miles, during which time he endured a capsize and equipment problems. 
  2. ^ Burnside, Anna (2005-08-21). "A Question of Sink or Sail". The Sunday Times. 

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