Quadriplegic sailor, Geoff Holt, arrived in Falmouth yesterday - the first Cornish stopover of his sail round the coast of Great Britain 4/6/07

Quadriplegic sailor, Geoff Holt, arrived in Falmouth yesterday afternoon, on the first Cornish stopover of his sail round the coast of Great Britain.

Geoff, 41, from Hampshire, was paralysed as the result of a swimming accident when he was just 18 years old. Having been an experienced sailor and charter skipper, who made many Transatlantic crossings prior to his accident, Geoff has tried to get out on the water as much as possible, despite his disability. He has twice raced around the Isle of Wight, setting and then breaking his own record, but the sail round Great Britain is a momentous task for him, one which he describes as his “Personal Everest”.

Geoff left Southampton two weeks ago, stopping at Lymington, Portland, Bridport and Brixham, where he and his team were weather bound for over a week. Geoff got going again last Friday, sailing from Brixham to Salcolmbe and then on to Plymouth on Saturday.

The sail to Plymouth was not without its problems. Geoff recounts: “As stunning as the scenery is overseeing the entrance to Salcombe, a spring tide at full ebb (going westwards) coupled with the southerly wind created a very localised sea state consisting of very high, very steep swells rolling into the entrance. They were certainly high enough to cause concern and it was an hour before we could make our course.

“A matter of hours later the collar at the base of my mast sheered its rivets and the whole mast dropped into its box, a potentially dangerous situation if it worked its way through the hull. The RIB crew went into emergency procedures and within five minutes the rubber tender was launched and Ian had dropped the mainsail, not an easy feat in rolling seas and a good Force 3 blowing. To prevent matters from getting worse, Ian remained in the support tender slung between my main hull and starboard sponson whilst holding the boom to prevent further damage – then followed a slow tow the final hour into Plymouth. At least Andy was able to catch a couple of mackerel – once again on my line, is there no justice? Timothy had one for his tea which he thoroughly enjoyed, the other he has decided to call ‘Fishy’ and is currently in a bucket under our van; yes it is dead but you try telling him why that is a problem.

“Once ashore, we took the mast out to see the problem, a plastic collar supporting the entire weight of the mast with only 2 rivets and a stainless steel wedge glued in place to prevent it slipping, had sheered and slid up the mast about 6 inches – a poor design that could have ripped the side of my hull out had we not acted quicker.”

Repairs done and weather conditions good for sailing, Geoff sailed the 45 miles to Mylor Boat Yard at Falmouth, the first of several stops in Cornwall for Geoff. From Falmouth he will sail on to Newlyn, St Ives and Bude.