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December 22, 2004

Deaf yachtsman completes world trip

From: Business Day, South Africa - Johannesburg,South Africa - Dec 22, 2004

By Lew Elias

Deaf round-the-world sailor Charl de Villiers sailed into Palacios, Texas on Sunday, completing a solo global circumnavigation in just under 10 months.

This makes him the first deaf person to sail around the world alone.

De Villiers grew up in East London and his parents, Johan and Marie de Villiers, still live here.

They eagerly awaited his arrival in East London after a round of bad weather pushed him from the Indian Ocean islands to Durban, and then more bad weather along the Wild Coast led to his putting into East London on September 24.

Charl, dogged by bad weather, left East London when a window of opportunity opened on Monday, September 27.

The bad weather he has been experiencing seemed to follow him across the Atlantic and with just three days to go before his estimated time of arrival in Palacios, Texas, Charl encountered the worst storm of his entire voyage.

However he sailed his Tartan 37 yacht, Island Time, into Serendipity Marina in Palacios, Texas at 1pm local time on Sunday.

His wife Bev said: "He was greeted by 300 well- wishers and it was a sight I will remember for the rest of my life."

She said Charl was "overwhelmed".

"He enjoyed a relaxing bath, had a much-needed shave and slept in his own bed for the first time in almost 10 months," she added.

Charl was very exhausted but well and "as happy as can be".

He is to complete his log sometime this week and it will be posted on his website

His parents are with him in Texas to celebrate his record-breaking voyage and to spend Christmas with him and his family.

Daily Dispatch

© BDFM Publishers 2004