...deaf people can do everything except hear. ...we prove it everyday. (Gallaudet University) Paul Thompson is a shining example.
"Since I was a child, I have dreamed of sailing single-handed around the world. In preparation for that event, I built my own boat and have soloed thousands of blue-sea miles. I want this to be a voyage for all deaf people - I want to speak for them."
Paul J. Thompson was born and raised in Cape Town, South Africa. He became deaf at age two from a childhood illness. Always an eager student, he became a proficient lip reader.
As a deaf person in a world that depends so much on sound, Paul is driven to help the "hearing" world learn more about the deaf community, and he wants to challenge the deaf to reach for goals that they often put out of their own reach. His accomplishments to date as well as the goals that remain in his future stand as a symbol for what the deaf can achieve.
Paul has never lost sight of his dreams. His combined love for sailing and traveling are a natural conveyance by which he will reach both the hearing and non-hearing worlds. It is not important to Paul Thompson that he will be the first deaf person to sail single-handed around the world. What he selflessly strives for is the potential that this voyage has for the deaf worldwide.
A computer programmer and boatbuilder by trade, Paul is driven by dedication and attention to detail. These two qualities, more than any other, have prepared him for the voyage of a lifetime.
He has sailed the South Atlantic three times, once as the skipper of a boat competing in the 3,700 nm Cape Town-Rio Ocean Race (1993). In addition to Paul, there were four crew on the boat, two of whom were blind. Outfitted with a compass that chimed when the boat fell off course, the blind crew served as quartermasters and as the helm watch. A few days into the race, they could steer for up to a half-hour at a time without hearing the chimes ring even once! This experience further ingrained in Paul the crusade to succeed in his single-handed circumnavigation of the world.
We invite you to be a part of this adventure. As the plans for the voyage mature and then during the course of the trip, you will be able to follow Paul by e-mail and the Internet. Technology will allow him to communicate with everyone from sponsors and well-wishers to school children and deaf people worldwide.
While you track his progress, students will get lessons in geography, oceanography, meteorology and physics. Sponsors will get exposure. The deaf will get encouragement and the world community will cheer for a true achiever... and we will never hear deaf people in the same way again.
By single-handedly circumnavigating the globe, deaf sailor Paul Thompson will put into motion a mission of rare bravery and skill. His voyage is dedicated to:
Sharing with the world the qualities and capabilities of the deaf community;
Promoting debate and publicizing the unique challenges of being deaf;
Inspiring other deaf people to achieve their personal goals.