Every cruising sailor has an interesting story on what got them started. I was in a head on collision with a drunk driver resulting in the loss of 2 limbs, was sued into bankruptcy by my own insurance company. Starting over on the same path seemed horrible to me. The only logical option was to sell everything I had left after the bankruptcy, buy a budget cruising sailboat, and set sail with the dream of becoming the 1st double amputee (above elbow, below knee) to solo circumnavigate the world.
My journey began October 18th 2008 though i didn't know it at the time. In the early hours of the morning I was in a head on collision with a drunk driver which cost me my left arm, left leg, and nearly my life. I celebrate this day every year. On this day I was left for dead on the side of the road with my arm ripped from my body. Doctors told my parents, my friends, and me I would likely die. On this day I heard my mother and fathers voices tremble and shake over the phone from thousands of miles away as they tried to be strong for me. I was on a hospital bed with a punctured spleen, punctured lung, aspirated, traumatically amputated arm, broken scapula, and foot broken beyond repair. On this day I chose to live, and I celebrate it every year.
June 18th 2014 I sailed from Hawaii alone on a 45 year old sailboat with one month of sailing experience, 20 dollars in my bank account, and a dream of becoming the 1st double amputee to sail around the world.
So far I’ve sailed around 20,000 miles and visited 11 countries. The biggest hurdle in my path so far hasn't been sailing without an arm and leg but an engine and transmission that never seem to work. I've had the engine out twice and transmission countless times. Most of my modest disability income has gone to try to keep the engine and transmission going while other areas of my boat have been neglected. Twice I left Bali for Malaysia just to get towed back in after only getting a few miles out of the harbor My last few trips were probably ill-advised and borderline dangerous with the condition my boat was in.
I now have a more appropriate boat for the remainder of my trip. I am blessed to be able to continue my journey on a nicer and safer boat. I still have a long list of repairs to do before crossing the Indian ocean. Any little bit will help and be greatly appreciated.
I am writing a book about my journey and hope to raise awareness for people with disabilities. Like all cruising sailors, I just want to keep going.
- Vanessa Martins
- helene ausseil
- Susan Dusenberry
- Pavel Ugoltsev
- Charles Weimar