On May 24, 1965, a thirteen-and-a-half-foot boat slipped quietly out of the marina at Falmouth, Massachusetts. Its destination? England. It would be the smallest craft ever to make the voyage. Its name? Tinkerbelle. Its pilot? Robert Manry, a copy editor for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, who felt that ten years at the desk was enough boredom for a while. So he took a leave of absence to fulfill his secret dream.
Manry was afraid . . . not of the ocean but of all those people who would try to talk him out of the trip. So he didn’t share it with many, just some relatives and his wife, Virginia, his greatest source of support.
The trip? Anything but pleasant. He spent harrowing nights of sleeplessness trying to cross shipping lanes without getting run over and sunk. Weeks at sea caused his food to become tasteless. Loneliness led to terrifying hallucinations. His rudder broke three times. Storms swept him overboard, and had it not been for the rope he had knotted around his waist, he would never have been able to pull himself back on board. Finally, after seventy-eight days alone at sea, he sailed into Falmouth, England.
During those nights at the tiller, he had fantasized about what he would do once he arrived. He expected simply to check into a hotel, eat dinner alone, then the next morning see if, perhaps, the Associated Press might be interested in his story. Was he in for a surprise! Word of his approach had spread far and wide. To his amazement, three hundred vessels, with horns blasting, escorted Tinkerbelle into port. And forty thousand people stood screaming and cheering him to shore.
Robert Manry, the copy editor-turned-dreamer, became an overnight hero. His story has been told around the world. We need more Roberts who have the creativity and the tenacity to break with boredom and try the unusual.
Taken from Charles R. Swindoll, The Strength of Character: 7 Essential Traits of a Remarkable Life (Nashville: J. Countryman, 2007), 88-89. Copyright © 2007 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc.