Man on a mission to become first double amputee to sail around world

Dustin Reynolds is currently docked at Bristol Marine. He refers to himself on social media as "The Single Handed Sailor," as he lost an arm and a leg in a tragic car crash in 2008.

BRISTOL, R.I. (WLNE) – One man is on a mission to become the first double amputee to sail around the world alone.

Dustin Reynolds is currently docked at Bristol Marine. He refers to himself on social media as “The Single Handed Sailor,” as he lost an arm and a leg in a tragic car crash in 2008.

“I was hit by a drunk driver,” recalled Reynolds. “After he hit me, he drove another 600 meters off into a ditch. He was incredibly drunk. He blew a .28.”

It took Reynolds three years to recover.

“I was trying to decide what to do next with my life,” he said, “Randomly I was on the internet and I found a list of people who had set the record for sailing around the world alone. I was like, ‘Well there’s no double amputee on the list, I guess I’ll just do that.'”

And that’s exactly what he’s been doing for the past six years. He began his journey in June of 2014.

Reynolds essentially taught himself how to sail through reading and watching videos on the internet. He mastered it single-handedly, literally, through trial and error.

“Using one hand takes longer. You have to practice and sometimes use profanities. If that doesn’t work you have to think of something else to do,” said Reynolds.

He started his circumnavigation from his home in Hawaii and so far has sailed through the South Pacific, Southeast Asia, and Africa.

“It’s a really meditative thing– spending that much time by yourself,” he said.

Reynolds actually went bankrupt trying to pay all his medical bills after the crash in 2008, so his entire adventure is funded through crowdsourcing.

In each new place he stops, he tries immersing himself in the culture there, as well as shares his own story.

“I am a bit lucky in this way, because I do look different than most people, missing an arm and a leg. In a lot of the islands I visit they don’t have medical supplies and if someone had an injury this catastrophic they wouldn’t have survived it, so they’ve never even seen an amputee in person, let alone somebody sailing by themselves. So, they’re incredibly curious,” Reynolds said.

The coronavirus pandemic has shut down some of the places left on Reynolds’ travel list. His ultimate goal is to sail around New England for the rest of the Summer, then hit the Caribbean, Panama, the Galapagos, and French Polynesia, before finally getting back to Hawaii and completing his circumnavigation in November of 2021.

“I’ve definitely learned patience from all of this,” said Reynolds.

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