Gerry Hughes (sailor)

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Gerry Hughes is the first profoundly deaf man to sail single-handed across the Atlantic Ocean. He crossed the finishing line off Castle Hill, Newport at 1130hrs (1630hrs GMT) local time on Saturday 3 July 2005 after 35 days of sailing. Gerry Hughes also became the world's first deaf yachtsman to sailing single handed around the world to pass the five great capes - departed Troon, Scotland on September 1, 2012, and returned to Troon on May 8, 2013.



Hughes was profoundly deaf from birth. He had experience of boats since he was about 2 years old in Largs, Rhu and Inverkip. In his teenage years he was involved with a group of deaf sailors in the south of England and sailed across the English Channel.

Hughes graduated with a degree in Mathematics from the Open University. In 1995 he qualified as a teacher. He later became acting head of Donaldson's School for the Deaf in Edinburgh.

Gerry is winning through, against the odds First learned to sail at the age of 2. Went to St Vincent's School for the Deaf, Glasgow at the age of 3. At the age of 13 went to St Johns School for the Deaf, Boston Spa, Yorkshire. Had a dream/ambition to sail around the world from the age of 14. Struggled to learn to read and write until the age of 15. Went to Norfolk House, 6th Form College in Surrey in 1975. Went to Langside College, Glasgow, in 1979. During 1975 to 1981, played for and captained Surbiton Deaf Football Club, Surrey, then moved to play for St Vincent’s Deaf Football club, Glasgow, winning the Scottish Deaf Football Cup, the British Deaf Football Cup, and runners up in the European Deaf Football Cup. Married Kay in 1985. Became the first deaf skipper to sail around the British Isles, in 1981. Employed as a Research Associate with the British Sign Language Research Project at Moray House College of Education, University of Edinburgh, 1981. Became Director of Quest for a Language, delivering, managing and liaising with both deaf and hearing students and developing a sign language curriculum, 1983. First Daughter Nicola born in 1989. Obtained a degree in Mathematics from the Open University, 1991 Second Daughter Ashley born in 1992. In 1995, Gerry became the first deaf teacher in Scotland since 1880. Became Assistant Head of Donaldson’s School for the Deaf in 2000. Became the first deaf skipper to sail across the Atlantic Ocean, in the Original Single-Handed Transatlantic Race, OSTAR, 2005. Has played golf for Scotland in the World Deaf Golf Championships six times. First deaf person to gain Chartered Teacher status in Scotland, in 2007. Currently teaching  Deaf pupils at St Roch’s Secondary School, Glasgow

Single-Handed Trans-Atlantic Race[edit]

In August 2004, Hughes bought a 23 year old, 34 foot yacht. He named the yacht Quest II.

Hughes set off from Portsmouth in Quest II, but was forced to call at Cork (city) for repairs due to a failure of battery power. Out in the Atlantic, a few days later, the battery power failed again, resulting is the loss of use of his navigation lights, generator, laptop computer and mobile 'phone. He continued, making use of an oil lamp.

When he eventually reached USA waters he was able to ask directions from a passing speed-boat encountered in fog. He reached Newport successfully when the fog had cleared.[1]

Around the World[edit]

On September 1, 2012, Hughes left Troon, Scotland to start his eight month journey across the world. Hughes travel around the world solo, sailed 32,000 miles and became the first deaf yachtsman to passed all five southernmost capes - Cape Agulhas, Cape Leeuwin, South East Cape, South West Cape and Cape Horn.


  1. ^ A Question of Sink or Sail by Anna Burnside, The Sunday Times 2005-08-21.

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