Four Senses — Plus One of Adventure

Gerry Hughes becomes first deaf sailor to circumnavigate solo around the world.

Gerry Hughes on Beneteau 42
Gerry Hughes became the first deaf sailor to circumnavigate the world, sailing aboard this 42-foot Beneteau, Quest III.Courtesy Gerrysmhughes.com

On September 1, 2012, Scottish school teacher Gerry Hughes set out from the Firth of Clyde in Scotland in his Bruce Farr-designed Beneteau 42s7, Quest III. Some eight months later, he just sailed_ Quest III_ into Troon, Scotland, becoming the first deaf person ever to complete a solo circumnavigation of the globe.

The 32,000-mile journey included gale-force winds and recurring problems with electronics and communications equipment, much to the dismay of more than 3,000 supporters who followed Hughes’s attempt online. But he persevered, saying that he wanted to fulfill his lifelong ambition and serve as an inspiration for young deaf people to overcome obstacles.

Hughes has been deaf since birth — and he’s been shattering stereotypes and records pretty much ever since then. He learned to sail at age 2, just before he began attending a school for the deaf in Glasgow. He has wanted to sail around the world since he was 14, even though he struggled with reading and writing until he was 15. He became the first deaf skipper to sail around the British Isles in 1981, and in 1983 became director of Quest for a Language, where he developed a sign-language curriculum. Hughes became the first known deaf skipper to sail across the Atlantic in 2006, played for Scotland six times in the World Deaf Golf Championships, and is the first deaf person ever to have gained chartered teacher status in Scotland.

To find out what Hughes plans to do next, check out www.gerrysmhughes.com.