Deaf man sets sail on round-the-world voyage

Posted on September 3, 2012

In this era of Deaf people achieving great things, we draw your attention to Gerry Hughes, of Glasgow, Scotland who has set sail on an epic journey and in doing so, is highlighting what Deaf people are capable of.

Renowned sportsman [in both sailing and golf] and Scotland’s first Deaf Teacher of the Deaf to qualify within the country, Gerry embarked on his solo non-stop round the world sailing voyage from Troon Marina on Saturday.

Gerry expects the voyage to take six months. If he is successful on his travels, Gerry will not only have fulfilled a life-long ambition but will also enter the record books as the first Deaf man to achieve this feat.

Gerry is well known to Deaf golfing fans, was part of the BSL research team at Moray House, Edinburgh, is a former presenter of BBC’s Deaf
programme, ‘See Hear’ and is also a well respected Teacher of the Deaf in Scotland.

In 2005, Gerry was the first Deaf man to have sailed in the OSTAR – a single-handed transatlantic race – [Plymouth, UK to Newport, USA] – a
race made famous by the bet of half a crown [twelve and a half pence] and Francis Chichester who crossed the line first in Gypsy Moth III after 40 days in 1960. Gerry’s efforts in making the 35 day crossing in Quest II [and without access to telecommunication and radar for much of that time], a 34 foot yacht, saw him receive a special commendation from the Royal Western Yacht Club in 2009.

For his round the world voyage, Gerry is sailing in Quest III, a 42 foot yacht which was the subject of feverish last minute preparations before the launch.

The recession and economic climate has made it impossible to secure sponsorship but such is Gerry’s dream, he is mortgaging everything he has to fulfill it. In addition, friends and family have been undertaking fund-raising exercises – and donations are still welcome (see below).

Gerry has been involved in sailing since his father first took him onto the family’s boat ‘Quest’. As a teenager, Gerry sailed with other Deaf
teenagers in the south, crossing the English Channel and had sailed around the British Isles by the age of 21. He has passed on his love of sailing to others – teaching friends and pupils. His ‘quest’ will be record-breaking and moving with tales not to be missed.

As with the OSTAR race, Gerry will be taking his oil lamp, his trusty device which gave him light and comfort when his battery power failed, leaving him to navigate by the stars and use the lamp as the only warning light to passing ships.

Gerry’s trip will take him around the five capes – the hallmark of a true solo circumnavigation of the earth. Some 31,000 miles will be covered and Gerry will face seas and weathers of all types as well as encountering natural sealife including dolphins, seals, whales and many other examples of sea and bird life. Gerry is supported in his quest by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first person to sail single-handed and non-stop around the world between 14th June 1968 and 22nd April 1969.

At the launch on Saturday, Avril Hepner, who saw him set sail, said: “It was a very emotional day and he had many supporters there to cheer him. When he achieves his dream, I will be able to say that I’ve witnessed that day as part of history.”

By Linda Richards

Please contact Linda Richards at if you would like to support Gerry by sending a donation.

The Limping Chicken is supported by Deaf media company Remark!, provider of sign language services Deaf Umbrellatraining and consultancy Deafworksthe National Deaf Children’s Society’s Look, Smile Chat campaign, and the National Theatre’s captioned plays.

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