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September 13, 2004

Charl puts into Durban and repairs rudder

From: Dispatch Online, South Africa - Sep 13, 2004

By Lew Elias

EAST LONDON - Deaf round-the-world sailor Charl de Villiers made it to Durban early yesterday and by dark had already repaired his vessel's damaged rudder, his father, East London businessman Johan de Villiers said last night.

De Villiers and two of Charl's brothers, Francois and Christo, were in Durban yesterday to greet the intrepid sailor who wants to be the first deaf person to solo circumnavigate the globe.

Charl is attempting his journey aboard a Tartan 37 yacht - aptly named the Silent Voyager.

Ten days ago winds of up to 40 knots and 12 metre swells damaged the yacht's rudder and the high seas fed lots of water into the vessel, causing substantial damage.

The storm forced De Villiers to head for Durban rather than sailing directly towards Cape Town as he originally intended, his father said.

While in Durban he intends to get his two laptop computers repaired as they have both developed problems.

As Charl cannot hear the radio, he requires the computers to communicate with the outside world.

Another communication tool is a satellite cellphone on which he sends and receives SMSes.

His video camera also packed up in the storm and he is hoping to be able to continue recording his journey on a new camera.

"We have managed to get most of the equipment repaired and Charl has taken us on a cruise around Durban harbour. "Now we are relaxing with a beer," his father said when contacted by the Daily Dispatch last night.

Charl expects to leave Durban sometime this week to come down the coast to East London, "which he initially didn't want to do because of the potential danger".

"He would like to put into East London and see his family, but if the weather is good and he is making good progress perhaps he might overshoot to Cape Town and take advantage of the weather," his father said.

Charl is expected to take on supplies and stay in Cape Town before tackling the last leg of his journey, which started on March 13 this year, back to Palacios, Texas, in the Gulf of Mexico.

Charl also took part in another record breaking event on September 1 last year when he and 13 other deaf people took part in a mass parachute jump that made the Guinness Book of Records.

Copyright Dispatch Media (Pty) Ltd, 1998