Follow Geoff Holt’s Personal Atlantic here. I will post updates on his story as they enter my inbox.
News from Tortola
Following arrival in Tortola, British Virgin Islands, Geoff has been struggling to connect to post latest Blogs, Tweets and Video. As soon as a good connection is found we expect Geoff to add these to his website.
Geoff sends his thanks for all messages of congratulation that have been received.
Today’s the day………..!!!!!!!
Phew, what a day yesterday was. Having made the decision to divert to Antigua for emergency fuel to run the ships essential electrical and hydraulic systems, I altered course and we had a great sail through the night. My shore team had investigated several options but we settled on rendezvousing at noon local time with the Antigua & Barbuda Search & Rescue team (ABSAR). I was insistent that it should be a ship to ship refuel at sea, not at a marina or at anchor which would constitute making landfall – not that would be a problem but I felt it would take the shine off my arrival in Tortola. We chose Carlisle Bay (just around from Falmouth / English Harbour) as it gave protection from the Atlantic swells. The re-fuelling was textbook – my thanks to Jonathan, Sven, Barbara and Becky from ABSAR and I’m certain the owner of ID will be pleased that not a drop of diesel was spilt on his lovely decks. Within the hour, we were off again, now able to recharge our ships batteries from the engines which meant I could finally stop steering by hand, much to the relief of my right arm, and we could have hot food, the first in days.
More good wind and it wasn’t long before we were making course for Tortola (ETA 1300 local time, 1700 GMT, Thursday 7th January), sailing up past St Kitts and Nevis, the volcano dramatically backlit by the setting sun, the island lights twinkling along the shoreline. What a great sight.
So, how are we feeling with less than 12 hours to go? Well, Susana is already packed, grinning from ear to ear and right now is letting off part poppers down below in her cabin accompanied by whoops of delight – I think it’s the prospect of being on terra firma, either that or the peanut M&M’s have finally got to her. She’s not even mentioned the “seasick” word today but that could be because the tranquil Caribbean sea is so different to the mighty Atlantic.
BBC Radio and News made contact with Geoff for arrival interviews as he was reunited with his family.
Geoff arrived in Tortola to become the first quadriplegic to sail across the Atlantic. He has sailed the 2,700 mile journey across the Atlantic on a 60ft purpose built catamaran Impossible Dream, unassisted in every aspect of the sailing.
It has taken 28 days in total from his departure in Lanzarote to the arrival and emotional return to Cane Garden Bay where he will revisit the place of his accident that paralysed him 25 years ago.
Debbie Blachford, RYA Sailability Manager, said: “We are really excited and delighted for Geoff that he has made his ‘Personal Atlantic’ come true. He is truly an inspiration; he has shown that it is possible for disabled people to live a challenging life and he has shown us all that with hard work and determination we to can hope to achieve our dream, whatever it is.
Just over a week ago, the Spinal Unit in Salisbury where I was treated immediately after my accident, celebrated its 25th anniversary (I was one of the first patients admitted and spent 10 months there) ). It was opened in 1984 by Charles & Diana, in fact their photos still hang in reception either side of a commemorative plaque and the unit even carries his name, the Duke of Cornwall Spinal Treatment Centre. So, which Royal to ask back 25 years later to celebrate it’s quarter century? I guess there was a lot of discussion at the highest level, after all, you couldn’t have Charles and Camilla with a photo of Di hanging on the wall behind them could you? Someone somewhere made an inspired choice and opted for Edward, Earl of Wessex. I’d not met him before but he seemed a decent enough chap with a strong family resemblance, even his mannerisms are like his siblings, the hand-wring, the cufflink-twiddling…!!
Right, off to do some Christmas shopping now. I’m not going to get many other opportunities before we go.
The most notable event has been the 9 day long PSP Boat Show here in Southampton which finished yesterday. And my special thanks to National Boat Shows for allowing the presence of Impossible Dream on a Feature Berth at the show for 4 of those days. The reaction and feedback from the public was overwhelming, quite literally. On several occasions, there were so many people, we had to actually secure the boat to stop more people coming aboard whilst we showed others around. And if we were lucky to find a spare 5 minutes in the day, we would have to hide down below to have a bite of a sandwich. The fantastic publicity undoubtedly helped raise awareness of the project but, no-one walking around the marina at the show could fail to notice us – we really were a “Show Stopper”. And as though that was not enough, last Thursday the 17th, Her Royal Highness, the Princess Royal paid a special visit to the boat to find out more about the project and to inspect the boat. You may have seen some of the coverage on the National BBC News. (A full list of media coverage is given at the bottom of this Blog). She was particularly interested in the array of Raymarine electronics and spent quite a while learning about the various buttons I push to sail the boat. Amongst the guests on board were Mike, Martine & Bob, trustees of the Sporting Activities for the Disabled Trust, Fiona Pankhurst from Raymarine, my cameraman Digby Fox, Elaine, Susana and a new performance partner, Charles Haymer from Pol Roger champagne, the last independently owned champagne house in France and, having a particular like of champagne, I can assure you it is by far the best. What a terrific sponsor to have..!!
Sailing under the burgee of the Royal Southern Yacht Club, the trip will be made in daily trips, each of about 8 hours and will take about 100 days to complete.
Already the first disabled sailor ever to sail solo the 70 miles around the Isle of Wight, the only disabled sailor to sail around the Isle of Wight twice (once in 1992 and again in 1997) and the fastest disabled sailor to sail solo around the Isle of Wight (7 hours 55 minutes), Geoff will once again sail his Challenger trimaran dinghy into the record books for this epic journey.
Geoff’s Challenger Trimaran
The Challenger dinghy is a tried and tested multihull. Geoff’s pervious boat Billy has already carried him safely in excess of 1000 miles on the water and the Challenger is the obvious boat of choice for the Personal Everest Challenge.
Geoff’s new boat Freethinker is the latest mark 2a model and benefits for a lighter body and an improved steering assembly. Unlike other Challengers, Freethinker has been modified with a suite of Raymarine electronic systems including chartplotter and tiller-pilot.
Here are some pictures taken on Wednesday 14th March on Freethinker’s first sea trials. Despite the light airs, Geoff says that she handled beautifully and was surprisingly quick.
Sail expert Richard Lovering from Hyde Sails was aboard our support RIB and declared himself happy with the sail shape which would give a good all-round performance.