Geoff Holt sets off
Quadriplegic sailor Geoff Holt, 43 from Hampshire, sets sail from Lanzarote today
en route to become the first disbaled man to sail the Atlantic solo. Geoff hopes to be in the British Virgin Islands, in three week’s time.
His catamaran Impossible Dream was designed for disabled people by paraplegic Mike Browne and kindly donated for the dream trip. Geoff says: “If we have problems, we will overcome them. I’ll miss my family terribly, but achieving this will be the best present ever.”
He was just out of school aged 16 when Geoff began working as first mate on boats. By the age of 18, he had sailed the Atlantic three times. But months after his last journey across the waters, disaster struck. He dived into shallow waters and broke his neck. But that wasn’t the end of it.
Sadly, the company he worked for had no insurance, despite telling him otherwise. He couldn’t get in touch with family, and it was only thanks to a report in The Sun that his family found out about the accident. The government refused to help him unless he found £20,000. He said: “I was seriously ill. I couldn’t get in touch with anyone. I weighed 7 stone, despite being 6 foot 4.”
Fortunately for Geoff, British Caledonian airlines came to the rescue and flew him back to safety. He was looked after by a pretty young nurse called Elaine.
“She was tiny little thing but quite strong. She would take me out in the evenings when no one to take me out. I was in hospital for 10 months, it was along time to spend with some one. We grew more and more fond of one another. We left together – I had fallen madly in love. I had to start from scratch. I had no money, no compensation, nothing. But Elaine helped me through it.”