by Des Ryan
He sailed single-handed across the Atlantic Ocean in 2005 and now he is to circumnavigate the world non-stop and single-handed. Well, you might say, pretty good but many have done that before, so what is so impressive? That's until you find out that Scottish sailor Gerry Hughes is profoundly deaf.
Gerry’s simple but ambitious route around the world, solo and non-stop
Gerry is planning to set out from Troon Marina in Glasgow in his Beneteau 42ft sloop, Quest III. His family, consisting of a wife and two daughters will remain behind as he takes on months of solo sailing through some of the most forbidding waters on earth.
Gerry is a teacher of deaf pupils at St Roch's Secondary School in Glasgow. He has already proved how tough he was during his solo crossing of the Atlantic.
Sailing from Portsmouth in his 34ft yacht, Quest II, he was forced to call at Cork in Ireland for repairs due to a failure of battery power. He had the boat repaired, but in the middle of the Atlantic the battery power failed again, resulting in the loss of use of his navigation lights, generator, laptop computer and mobile 'phone. He went on, however, with no power and an oil lamp his only source of light. The fable has it that when he reached USA waters he had to ask directions from a passing speed-boat encountered in fog. He finally did reach Newport in Rhode Island, but only after spending eight days in fog, and only after the fog had cleared.
Speaking about his impending trip, Gerry said, 'This challenge has been a life-long ambition of mine and I can’t believe I’m about to set sail.
'I am about to embark on one of the hardest challenges known to man but I am confident I can do it as sailing is in my blood and I have a great boat.
'Sailing has been my passion from when I was very young. I really struggled as a youngster because of my deafness but sailing provided me with an escape and I instantly feel at peace on a boat.
'My first language is British Sign Language and I struggled to read and write until I was nearly 15 but I am a very driven person and wanted to be a teacher so I worked hard and fought the authorities and in 1995 became the first deaf teacher in Scotland since 1880.
'I’m embarking on this challenge to raise awareness of the deaf community and to inspire young deaf people that they too can achieve their dreams.
'It will be hard being away from my wife and daughters for so long, especially at Christmas but I know they support me 100 per cent which means a lot.
'I want to thank Troon Yacht Haven and all my other supporters and donors who have been instrumental in getting me to this point. '
Gerry's lonely voyage, which is expected to take between five and seven months, will be spent largely in the Southern Ocean and will take him past all five capes - a feat never accomplished by a deaf person before.
You can follow Gerry's challenge at www.gerrysmhughes.com