Dustin Reynolds, who lost his arm and part of his leg in an accident, has sailed solo around the world via the Panama Canal

It took seven-and-a-half years but Dustin Reynolds has become the first dual amputee to circumnavigate the globe solo, via the Panama Canal.

The 43-year-old lost his left arm and part of his leg after he was hit by a drunk driver in 2008.

Medical expenses left him $500,000 in debt and his carpet cleaning and fishing businesses suffered due to his absence.

Dustin Reynolds said he was faced with ‘no real prospects’ until he came across the Joshua Slocum Society while surfing the internet.

Having looked through the list of circumnavigators he realised there were no records for any double amputees and decided he would sail solo around the world.

The only modification he made to his 1968 Alberg 35 was to install a roller furling headsail. Credit: Dustin Reynolds

The only modification he made to his 1968 Alberg 35 was to install a roller furling headsail. Credit: Dustin Reynolds

Not being able to sail didn’t deter him, and he bought a $12,000 1968 Alberg 35 sloop.

His first time sailing was the day he bought Rudis.

After reading sailing books and watching instructional YouTube videos, he cruised around the Hawaiian islands for one month before starting his circumnavigation – the first time he’d sailed solo.

Initially Dustin Reynolds, who won the Ocean Cruising Club Seamanship Award in 2018, thought it would take five years, but COVID-19 and boat problems added years onto his adventure.

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By the time he arrived in Thailand five years ago, having sailed via the South Pacific, Australia, Indonesia and Malaysia, Rudis ‘was a wreck’ with stress cracks in the mast, chainplates and no working engine.

A friend suggested a Crowdfunding campaign, and he raised $20,000 – enough to buy his 1983 Bristol 35.5, Tiama, and continue his circumnavigation via South Africa, the Caribbean, Rhode Island and New York (where he spent the height of the COVID-19 pandemic), Colombia, the Galapagos Islands and the Marquesas Islands.

Dustin Reynolds crossed his outbound track near South Point, Kona, Hawaii, in December 2021, arriving to a warm welcome.

He now plans to finish his book, engage in public speaking and environmental projects.

Enjoyed reading Dustin Reynolds: dual amputee finishes circumnavigation?

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