Paul Thompson was born in East London, South Africa on the 3rd of September, 1957. At 11/2 to 2 years of age, he caught Rubella (German measles) and Whooping Cough simultaneously. The resulting fever damaged the hearing nerve and he became profoundly deaf. Fortunately for him, he was able to get a grip on speech before his loss became to severe and that, aided by an exceptionally gifted speech therapist Miss Vice, has enabled him to speak unusually well for a deaf person.
Paul was fitted with a hearingaid in the left ear (the right ear was totally deaf) at the age of six. Previous to that he relied on lip-reading alone as no one had actually realised that he was deaf. Paul's hearing loss grew progressively worse over the years and in April 2000 he lost all hearing and became totally deaf. Being without any hearing at all, he became a candidate for a cochlear implant and he received his implant, a Cochlear Ltd. Esprit Nucleus 24 in December 2000.
Sailing has been Paul's life long passion, one that he can date from the day, when at the age of 11 he met a boy on the docks in the East London harbour. The boy was off a cruising yacht that was passing through. He made friends with the lad and quickly developed a passion for boats and sailing that has never died.
Among the highlights of Paul's sailing career to date, are:
Skippered “Acid Rain” a 38’ ketch with two blind crew (the first blind persons to sail across the South Atlantic as an active crew aboard a sailing yacht) in the 1993 Cape to Rio race (3700 miles).
Delivered 43’ catamaran “St. Francis” from Rio to Cape Town after the 1993 Cape to Rio (3700).
Single handed “La Chica” a 31’ ketch (own boat) from Cape Town to Cabadelo (Brazil) via St. Helena island (3800 miles). It was the first single handed crossing of the South Atlantic by a deaf person.
Sailed “La Chica” from Cabadelo to St. Martin via Ills du Salut (2400 miles).
Skipper of a 60’ ferry for Port de Plasaint (Sheraton Hotels), St. Martin. Was responsible for the said ferry and another three boats during hurricane Luis (1995). All the boats under my care survived.
Sailed “La Chica” for three years (95-97) amongst the Caribbean islands. Sailed “La Chica” from Port of Spain to Bonaire and then directly to Key West (down the Caribbean sea – 1700 miles). Voyaged from Key West to Fort Myers Beach then through the Okeechobee waterway, joining the ICW at St. Lucy inlet to sail onto Norfolk and thence to Washington DC and finally Annapolis MD (1500 miles).
Delivered “Timeless” an Island Packet 31, from Annapolis to Charleston (500 miles).
Delivered “Seawitch” a Passport 40, from Atlanta to Annapolis (800 miles)
Apart from his wide sailing experience, he is also a professional computer programmer and a boat builder. In New Zealand, Paul has worked for Johnson Yachts International Ltd. as a development engineer and as a side line looked after their computers. His most notable achievement while at Johnson Yachts was designing and implementing the rigging and electrical systems for the Benford 45, Archimedes (see New Zealand Boating Sept. 2004) launched in December 2003.
Paul is currently self employed and is overhauling the Laurie Davidson 45, owned by Colin Routely.