Solo one-armed sailor arrives in Londonderry after transatlantic voyage

Celebrating with a pint as he arrives in Derry. Credit: UTV

After over a month at sea sailor Garry Crothers celebrated arriving in Londonderry with a hard-earned pint after completing an extraordinary solo trip across the Atlantic.

The 64-year-old's family and friends were there to greet him as he sailed safely into the River Foyle on Saturday afternoon.

During the voyage he battled high winds and thunderstorms, travelling nearly four-thousand miles after he found himself in the Caribbean with no crew as the coronavirus-crisis struck worldwide.

Garry, who lost his left arm after a motorcycle accident in 2009, made the decision to attempt the epic solo journey after his crew were left stranded at home when all seaports and airports closed.

Garry Crothers completed his solo transatlantic trip crossing on Saturday. Credit: UTV

Garry was waiting on the island of St. Martin when the pandemic unfolded and he realised his daughter Amy, and friend Ken Curry who had intended to help sail his yacht 'Kind of Blue' back to Northern Ireland would be unable to join him.

He then made the difficult decision to undertake the trip alone, in an effort to avoid the hurricane season.

More than 30 gruelling days later, Garry appeared to be in a jovial mood after sailing up the Foyle past his home in Culmore.

His first words to the welcoming party at the pontoon in Derry were, "I believe they opened the pubs especially!"

He said: "I certainly am glad to be home. I’m really going to enjoy my bed tonight. I’m absolutely exhausted. I haven’t had a good nights sleep in 34 days."

Garry made the trip on his yacht 'Kind of Blue'

Asked what he had just achieved Garry replied: "I sailed across the Atlantic, via nowhere, just went straight 3600 miles. 

"It was always my dream to do long distance sailing. I was in the Merchant Navy for many years and I always wanted to go to French Polynesia, the islands in the Pacific. I wanted to see Easter island. 

"I did have a crew going across the Atlantic to Trinidad, I had my daughter Amy and my good friend Ken Curry, there was 3 of us onboard on that passage. But on this passage it was just not possible to get crew. You couldn’t fly people in.

"There’s always a concern when you're doing a passage like that by yourself, alone, single-handedly. There are dangers, but you put plans in place to try to minimise those dangers. 

"The boats are more than capable, it’s usually the people who aren't capable. It’s a big  mental thing."

A welcome fleet accompanied Garry into the River Foyle. Credit: UTV

In response to the welcome home party he said: "It’s great to see so many people out to meet me and great me - I really do appreciate it."

Garry credited Foyle Sailability, a cross border organisation that helps people with disabilites to sail and take part in other water-based activities, with rebuilding his confidence after his motorcycle accident.

He said: "Foyle Sailability helped me get back on my feet again after quite a severe accident which nearly killed me.

"(It) got me back in the water, got me doing the things that I love, gave me that opportunity so I can’t thank them enough."