As readers of this blog may be aware, LINCS has established interests not only in translation and interpreting, but also in intercultural studies. Of growing significance in this respect is research about cultural heritage. The heritage of speakers of English, French, Arabic and so on is well understood – though many questions inevitably remain to be addressed. But the cultural heritage of Deaf people – particularly, for us, that of users of British Sign Language (BSL) – is much less well known.
One man who is about to write himself firmly into the annals of the British Deaf community is Gerry Hughes. A Glaswegian, Gerry was born profoundly deaf and uses BSL as his first language. Gerry is well known to Heriot-Watt’s BSL staff: he was one of the earliest researchers into BSL – here in Edinburgh in the early 1980s – and in recent years worked with Gary Quinn on an innovative Science Signs project. Now, he is set to be the first Deaf yachtsman to do a solo circumnavigation of the world past the five great capes.
This undertaking, being a landmark in the achievements of this incredible adventurer will also serve as beacon to the Deaf community and any of the many individuals who look to Gerry as a role model. Crowds gathered to witneoss the momentous and historic occasion of his departure: what will greet his return? You can follow Gerry’s progress on his website via updates as and when they are received, and on Facebook.
Gerry’s solo circumnavigation emulates a journey made famous by likes of Sir Francis Chichester and the legendary Sir Robin Knox Johnston. As a Deaf man, Gerry has, of course, had no radio contact throughout the voyage. To put the rarity of this achievement in context, 1525 people have been to the top of Mount Everest; 560 people have been up into space; but only 300 people have sailed around the world past all five capes single handedly.
Gerry set sail from Troon Marina at 12.00pm on Saturday 1st September 2012 in a bid to become the first Deaf man to sail single handed non stop around the world. And he’s about to finish. History in the making! Go go go Gerry!
Author: Graham Turner