Please select your home edition
Edition
Marine Resource 2016

Born to Sail – The story of Eric Berkey and Challenged America

by Marshall Lubin on 10 Jun 2013
Eric’s story - Born to Sail Challenged America
Fortunately enough for him, Eric Berkey, inspirational quadriplegic, was born to parents that had boating in their blood. Growing up in the suburbs of Detroit, his family spent summers and holidays boating on a small lake that branches off Lake Huron in northern Michigan. In his youth, Eric notes, 'I spent time on boats of all shapes and sizes.' Falling in love with the outdoors and jazzed by his connection with the sea, he took the captain's exam at the age of 19 and received his first Coast Guard license. He followed that accreditation with a scuba instructor certification, became a certified EMT, and then a ski patrolman. Not yet tired with exams, Eric completed numerous mountain rescue and wilderness first-aid courses. With an undeniable love of nature, Eric headed west to Boulder, Colorado where he enrolled in the University of Colorado at Boulder. Studying Environmental Conservation, Eric found the perfect niche to fulfill his thirst for communing with the natural world. Now both a knowledgeable and educated outdoorsman, Eric volunteered for the Boulder Emergency Squad, an all-volunteer mountain and river rescue team. Having completed his studies in the Rockies, Eric headed west to San Diego where his dad had settled in the early nineties. Arriving on the west coast, he was thrilled to fall into a job that was a dream come true. In 1997 he hired on as crew on a megayacht. Eric traveled during the next twelve months to the Caribbean, Central America and Europe on the 150' motor vessel. After that year of travel, Eric returned to San Diego and added an MBA to his growing sail bag of accomplishments. Finishing yet another school, he returned to the sea to skipper dive boats in Mission Bay for a few years. He then worked at Mikelson Yachts where he was a project manager, commissioning new yachts, performing vessel deliveries, and teaching new owners how to operate their boats. Eventually, Eric came to serve as the captain of two private sport fishing boats, a sixty eight and eighty footer. Unfortunately, tragedy struck in 2011 when Eric tripped over a fuel line and fell off the back of the family boat. Had the boat been secured in a slip in the water there would have been no harm done (I've fallen off my boat at least twice). But the boat was on a trailer and Eric's uncontrolled fall caused him to hit the unyielding ground, head first. Suffering a C5-6 contusion to the spinal cord, Eric was left a quadriplegic restricted to a motorized wheelchair. 'The response and support from my family and friends throughout this major life change has been absolutely humbling! One of the biggest challenges of adapting to life as a quadriplegic has been the shift from being fiercely independent to completely reliant on the assistance of others.' Fortunately, Eric was a friend of Dave Meyers who then introduced him to Challenged America (CA) in November of 2011. Eric went for his 1st Martin sail on his 40th birthday. He was thrilled to be back on the water after his lengthy absence. CA allowed Eric to reconnect with the sea, as it does all of us. He states, 'I can't adequately thank the CA organization, especially the volunteers who make it happen! As I've said before, the closest I come to feeling normal is when I'm at the helm of the Martin 16.' You can see Eric sailing a Martin 16 whenever there's a regatta and he was in attendance at the DASH to Chula Vista, finishing in third place with his brother Joseph as companion. Having been a long time diver and fisherman Eric would enjoy seeing the Grand Banks modifications completed and doing some fishing from her stern. I think many others would enjoy joining Eric on those fishing trips. Perhaps we could have a barbecue with their catch? Eric has a suggestion for those not yet involved: 'Take up a cause! (Challenged America is a great cause.) The fact that my injury didn't kill me tells me I'm here for a reason. I believe we're supposed to leave this world better than we found it. This doesn't mean you have to cure cancer or end world hunger...I think a good starting point is simply being good to others.' Amen, Eric! Challenged America website
T Clewring AC72Wildwind 2016 660x82Pacific Sailing School 660x82 1

Related Articles

The C Beetle Project
Every now and then something comes along your way and you just have to read it. Every now and then something comes along your way and you just have to read it. Such is Phil Smidmore’s tale of Mick Miller and if I could be so bold as to implore you to read, then I know your life will be the better for it!
Posted today at 2:20 am
Zhik sailors win 17 sailing medals at 2016 Olympic Regatta
The 2016 Olympic games are over and what a Games they have been - Zhik sailors dominated Zhik sailors won almost 60% of the medals contested at Rio de Janeiro. It was a regatta which tested sailors and gear - with one day being the most severe conditions ever experienced at an Olympic regatta. For the Zhik team riders on the waters of Rio, four years and more of hard work and dedication have paid off for many.
Posted on 29 Aug
Kids Polarised Sunglasses from Barz Optics
Barz Optics have developed a quality range of junior polarised sunglasses ideal for sailing and fishing. Barz Optics have developed a quality range of junior polarised sunglasses ideal for sailing and fishing. Each pair are supplied with a neoprene case and sunglass retainer.
Posted on 4 Aug
Reducing weight aloft with composite backstays
Reducing weight aloft is one of the most cost effective ways of increasing your boat speed and performance. Reducing weight aloft is one of the most cost effective ways of increasing your boat speed and performance. Every kilogram you take out of the rig is roughly equivalent to 4kg added to the bottom of your keel!
Posted on 26 Jul
Bavaria STYLE 46 Australian Premiere at Sydney International Boat Show
For everyone who appreciates luxury on the water, the STYLE package is now available for the Cruiser 46 and Cruiser 51?. For everyone who appreciates luxury on the water, the STYLE package is now available for the Cruiser 46 and Cruiser 51?. Making the most of your time on board, be it with family or friends, is becoming more important. Yacht owners want certain levels of comfort and an onboard living experience coupled with versatility.
Posted on 26 Jul
What to look for when buying a modern lifejacket
There is no doubt that modern lifejacket design has changed considerably. There is no doubt that modern lifejacket design has changed considerably and one of the biggest drivers of this change has been due to personal ownership. Rather than crew relying on lifejackets being on-board a boat, they want to own their own lifejacket as part of their kit bag.
Posted on 25 Jul
The New Bavaria Cruiser 34 - you won't believe this is a 34' yacht!
The Sydney International Boat Show sees the World Premiere of the Bavaria Cruiser 34 - 2 Cabin version. The Sydney International Boat Show sees the World and Australian Premiere of the Bavaria Cruiser 34 - 2 Cabin version. The new Cruiser 34 offers more space and more comfort than ever before with a bigger cockpit, dual helms and ergonomically designed seating. This is the first time the entry level Bavaria cruiser has been offered in twin helm!
Posted on 19 Jul
Navathome Australia brings RYA Theory to your door
The RYA Cruising Syllabus has been built up over years of best practice development in Sail and Power Boat skippering. The Royal Yachting Association Cruising Syllabus has been built up over years of best practice development in Sail and Power Boat skippering. Split into a theory and practical syllabus the training modules take you in steps from a Start Yachting orientation through to Yachtmaster for either power or sail.
Posted on 5 Jul
Free $US3,000 Carbon Vang with SouthernFurl boom orders in July
Southern Spars is giving a free carbon vang - valued at US$3,000 - with SouthernFurl in-boom furlers ordered in July Southern Spars is giving away a free carbon vang - valued at US$3,000 - with all of their SouthernFurl in-boom furlers ordered in July. Carbon gas vangs make a great addition to the furling boom package, though if you’d prefer to keep your existing one, Southern Spars will offer you a 5% discount on the price of your boom instead.
Posted on 29 Jun
Newport Bermuda Race - High Noon takes honours
As the Newport Bermuda Race fleet rushed to the finish line on Monday in the wake of the first-to-finish boat, As the Newport Bermuda Race fleet rushed to the finish line on Monday in the wake of the first-to-finish boat, the powerful 100-foot grand prix Comanche, to the surprise of many they were led by an unusual boat and crew. High Noon, at 41 feet, is fully 59 feet shorter than Comanche and tens of feet shorter than many other entries.
Posted on 22 Jun