Scot becomes first deaf man to sail solo around the world

The first deaf person to sail single-handedly round the world relied on Inmarsat to stay connected throughout his eight-month challenge.

Gerry Hughes, a 55-year-old teacher from Glasgow, Scotland, completed his 32,000-mile (51,500km) circumnavigation on 8 May.

His 42ft (13m) yacht, Quest III, took a pounding during the voyage past all five capes, including capsizing in massive seas south of the Cape of Good Hope.

Facebook updates
Gerry's thousands of supporters were able to follow all the highs and lows through his regular blogs and image uploads on his website and Facebook - all transmitted via FleetBroadband 150.

He also used Inmarsat's entry-level FleetBroadband service to download vital weather files.

"When I first purchased the FleetBroadband terminal I was quite nervous and anticipated that it would be difficult to set-up and use, but in fact it was wonderful and I am delighted with it," said Gerry.

Compact terminal
"I was able to use the system to email my family, send photos, update news for my website,

"And, when I sailed through bad weather, it was brilliant. At the click of a button I could download the weather forecast and would know what to expect over the next few days."

The compact Sailor terminal was supplied by Inmarsat partner Global Telesat Communications (GTC), along with its SpeedMail email and web compression software.

Small antenna
"Gerry chose the FB150 as its small antenna size meant that it could fit on to his yacht without taking up too much space," said GTC Sales and Marketing Manager Jenna Phipps.

"He was pleased that the small size of the antenna did not mean he had to compromise on quality of service, as the speeds available were adequate for the data he needed to send and receive.

"That combined with Inmarsat’s global coverage meant that the equipment was perfect for Gerry’s requirements."

Lifelong ambition
After arriving back in Troon, Ayrshire, Gerry said he had finally achieved a lifelong ambition.

"Sailing has always been my first love and it provided a real escape from my deafness when I was a youngster.

"Now, I hope that following and completing my dream can encourage young people who face similar difficulties to see that their hopes and aspirations can still be fulfilled through belief and hard work."

Atlantic record
Gerry was born profoundly deaf and was introduced to sailing by his father at the age of two.

Eight years ago, he became the first deaf skipper to sail across the Atlantic Ocean, in the Original Single-Handed Transatlantic Race.

"Here at GTC we followed Gerry’s progress every day with both a professional and personal interest," said Jenna.

"We are pleased that he is now reunited with his family and are proud to have been able to play a small part in supporting such a courageous and historic voyage."

Gerry Hughes' website: