Northern Irish One-Armed Sailor Braves Atlantic By Himself For 37 Days To Reach Daughter’s Wedding

by : Emily Brown on : 07 Jul 2020 16:47
One-Armed Sailor Braves Atlantic By Himself For 37 Days To Reach Daughter's Wedding@mayordcsdc/Twitter

A determined sailor has made it home after embarking on a solo journey across the Atlantic to make sure he’d be able to attend his daughter’s wedding. 

I think we’ve found a real contender for World’s Best Dad here!


As if spending 37 days alone at sea isn’t impressive enough, Garry Crothers accomplished it all with one arm after having the other amputated in 2018 following a motorbike accident in 2009, which left it seriously damaged.

When the coronavirus outbreak hit earlier this year, the father from Derry, Northern Ireland, found himself stuck on the Caribbean island of Saint Martin, with flights grounded due to the virus.

Garry had no idea how long the travel restrictions may last, and with hurricane season fast approaching he started to fear he would miss his daughter Oonagh’s wedding, which is set to take place in September.


Determined not to miss the special day, Garry decided he had ‘little choice’ but to take to the seas.

Speaking to BBC News NI, he said:

Saint Martin is in the north of the Caribbean and is an area that is at the epicentre of the hurricane season.

It was the easiest option to make sure I got home in good time for my daughter’s wedding. I stocked up on food and supplies and I set sail for home.


Garry is an experienced sailor and has his own yacht named Kind of Blue, though he had previously never embarked on a solo mission that had lasted longer than seven days.

The 4,000-mile venture took him 37 days to complete, and he finally sailed up Ireland’s River Foyle on Saturday, July 4.


Garry admitted it was ‘very strange’ spending so long on his own, explaining he had to keep himself focused.

He commented:

I was focused on getting home, I could have stopped over in the Azores, but I was determined to keep going, to get home.

There are lots of things to keep busy with, repairs on the boat, maintenance work, and you spend a lot of time listening to the weather forecast.


Garry struggled with sleep on the boat, and when he finally made it back to dry land he said he ‘slept the sleep of the dead’.

The father is the vice-chairman of Foyle Sailability, a charity that encourages people with disabilities to sail, and though he said living life with one arm makes ‘everything that bit more challenging’, he said he’s learned to ‘do things differently’.

He added:

There are times, though, that on the boat it is a struggle.

Garry was welcomed home by a crowd of people on Saturday, including Derry’s deputy mayor Graham Warke, who said Garry’s story shows ‘you can achieve so much with passion, determination and belief’. He added that it will likely inspire others to believe ‘they, too, can defy the odds’.

The sailor said he is ‘ecstatic’ to be home, and I’m sure his family feel the same. Hopefully his daughter’s wedding will go to plan and the father can enjoy celebrating the day he worked so hard to attend.

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Emily Brown

Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.

Topics: Life, Amputee, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Now


  1. BBC News NI

    Coronavirus: Amputee home in Derry after transatlantic solo-sail