Please select your home edition
Edition
Southern Spars - North Technology

South Africa's 'Silent Solo Sailor' Goes Home

by Asa Sokopo,Daily Dispatch/Sail-World on 1 Nov 2008
Charl de Villiers photo by Philip Nothnagel .. .
South Africa: Charl de Villiers made headlines four years ago when he became the first deaf sailor to circumnavigate the world single- handedly.

He made his his epic 2004 voyage in his 11.2m Tartan yacht 'Island Times', which he bought in September 2000, and departed on his amazing journey from Palacios, in Texas.


Seven months and 13 days later, he was welcomed back by 300 people, including family members, at the same spot.

His inspirational voyage took him through the Panama Canal and across the Pacific and Indian oceans. He overcame equipment failure, adverse weather conditions, a near collision with a freighter, and even fell victim to a robbery on his yacht.

Now the 'silent voyager', who has been based in Texas for the past 17 years, is back in the country of his birth, South Africa, visiting his family in East London.

'It feels good to be back in South Africa, it’s the most beautiful country in the world,' said De Villiers, who has been deaf since the age of seven, but lip-reads English and Afrikaans.

His father Johan jokingly told the Dispatch that De Villiers only visited his family when he was injured – the last time was after he had broken his leg playing rugby.

This time around, De Villiers injured his arm while repairing a boat in Texas. Doctors told him it would take six weeks for his arm to heal so, as he was unable to repair boats or sail with one arm, he took the opportunity for a trip home.

'Once I’m in Texas I never know when I’ll see my family again,' he said with a chuckle.

A father of two, his daughter is married to a rancher, and his son is in his final year at university.

He became deaf after suffering an allergic reaction to medication he was given for severe burns.

Today he repairs and delivers both power and sail boats for a living and his new career has led to him sailing the great American lakes of Erie, Huron and Michigan. He has even sailed the Mississippi River.

'Going down the Mississippi River, I felt like Mark Twain,' he said.

Between boat work, De Villiers has managed to start a rugby club with South African expatriates and gives motivational speeches about his life and sailing experiences.

Inspiring stuff for someone who has lost their hearing.....

To read articles from the Daily Dispatch, click here
InSunSport - NZSchaefer 2016 Ratchet Block 660x82T Clewring J-class

Related Articles

Debriefing the 2015-16 Clipper Round The World Race with Huw Fernie
Sail-World talked with Huw Fernie of Visit Seattle to learn more about a Clipper Round The World Race skipper’s life. Skipper Huw Fernie and his Visit Seattle crew took top honors in the Den Helder Northern Seas Challenge, marking their second podium finish during the 2015/16 Clipper Round The World Race. I recently caught up with Fernie to learn more about Visit Seattle’s success in the Den Helder Northern Seas Challenge, and to learn more about the life of a Clipper Round The World Race skipper.
Posted on 28 Jul
Finale of Clipper Race global series starts in The Netherlands
The 198nm race to London is going to be one of the most nail-biting yet with just six points separating the top teams After a Departure Ceremony from Willemsoord Marina and a Parade of Sail in the presence of Dutch Royal Navy ship ZrMs Luymes, the fleet started the final short sprint to London off the Dutch coast.
Posted on 28 Jul
Thousands of spectators expected to welcome home Clipper Race fleet
Hurricane winds, giant waves, freezing conditions, battered boats and tragedy fail to quell fighting spirit of the crew. The tenth edition of the famous biennial race for novice sailors led by professional skippers is regarded as the most challenging on record after the event endured the most extreme conditions it has ever faced in its 20-year history.
Posted on 28 Jul
America's Cup World Series - Ian Roman's images of Pompey
Ian Roman was in Portsmouth for the America's Cup World Series capturing the Royal visitors Top international photographer, Ian Roman was in Portsmouth for the America's Cup World Series and provided this second of two galleries of the racing across the three days of the regatta, taking in the Royal visitors.
Posted on 26 Jul
America’s Cup World Series – More final day images by Ingrid Abery
Ingrid Abery has provided this gallery of images from final day Ingrid Abery has provided this gallery of images from final day
Posted on 25 Jul
America’s Cup World Series – Final race day images by Ingrid Abery
Ingrid Abery provided this gallery of images from final day Ingrid Abery provided this gallery of images from final day
Posted on 25 Jul
LV America’s Cup World Series - Up and down for Groupama Team France
The new leader is none other than the local team lead by Sir Ben Ainslie, who was rallied along throughout the six races 2016 America’s Cup World Series - This weekend the overall ranking for the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series has been turned on its head and with the Portsmouth act complete, the new leader is none other than the local team lead by Sir Ben Ainslie, who was rallied along throughout the six races by strong support from a home crowd.
Posted on 25 Jul
LV America's Cup World Series - Land Rover BAR take two from two
While Oracle Team USA did all but everything they could to take the win with a two, one, one scorecard today 2016 Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series - While Oracle Team USA did all but everything they could to take the win with a two, one, one scorecard today, it wasn't enough to topple the fast and furious tenacity of a Ben Ainslie led Land Rover BAR on the final day of racing at the Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series in Portsmouth.
Posted on 25 Jul
2016 LV America’s Cup World Series - More images by Carlo Borlenghi
Carlo Borlenghi provided this gallery of images from America’s Cup World Series - Race Day 2 and Prize-giving ceremony. 2016 America’s Cup World Series - Carlo Borlenghi provided this gallery of images from 2016 Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series - Race Day 2 and Prize-giving ceremony.
Posted on 25 Jul
2016 LV America’s Cup World Series - Day 2 images by Carlo Borlenghi
Carlo Borlenghi provided this gallery of images from America’s Cup World Series - Race Day 2 and Prize-giving ceremony 2016 America’s Cup World Series - Carlo Borlenghi provided this gallery of images from 2016 Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series - Race Day 2 and Prize-giving ceremony.
Posted on 25 Jul