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Geoff Holt Spends Christmas At Sea

December 25, 2009

A yachtsman bidding to become the first quadriplegic sailor to cross the Atlantic is spending Christmas at sea after battling early setbacks.

Geoff Holt, 43, from Southampton, left Lanzarote in the Canary Islands on 10 December to sail 2,700 miles (4345km) to the British Virgin Islands.

He is returning to Garden Bay, Tortola, where he was paralysed while diving but fuel problems delayed him by a week.

He said he missed his family but would celebrate Christmas with roast chicken.

Mr Holt is an experienced sailor, having travelled more than 30,000 miles at sea and crossed the Atlantic three times before his accident, in 1984.

Hydraulic technology

He damaged his spinal cord when diving into shallow water and was left needing a wheelchair and with only limited use of his arms and hands.

The 60ft (18m) catamaran Mr Holt is sailing, Impossible Dream, is owned by the disabled outdoor sports charity of the same name and uses hydraulic push button technology to operate the sails.

He had been hoping to complete the journey in about 17 days.

However, the boat’s fuel, needed when coming into land, proved to be contaminated and caused engine problems.

Geoff Holt and his carer

Geoff Holt and his crew are making the best of Christmas at sea

After he was forced to spend a week in the Cape Verde Islands while the yacht underwent repairs, his journey has been hampered by unseasonably light winds and he does not expect to arrive in the Caribbean until about 5 January.

“We haven’t made up much time. There’s barely a flutter of wind on the ocean and we’re going quite slowly,” he told the BBC.

While Mr Holt is sailing and navigating unaided, he is being accompanied by a carer and a cameraman.

“It’s going to be tough being away from family and friends at Christmas but I’ve got a great crew so we should have a roast chicken dinner, open our presents and maybe have a little drink or two,” he said.

Mr Holt is raising cash for the Ellen MacArthur Trust, which uses sailing as a way of helping young people to recover from cancer.


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