On May 24, 1965, a 13½ foot boat slipped quietly out of the marina at Falmouth, Massachusetts. It would be the smallest craft ever to make the voyage across the Atlantic Ocean to England. The Tinkerbelle was piloted by Robert Manry, a copy editor for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, who felt that 10 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 who would try to talk him out of the trip. So he didn’t share it with many, just some relatives and especially his wife Virginia.
The trip was not pleasant; he spent nights of sleeplessness trying to cross shipping lanes without getting run over and sunk. Weeks at sea caused his food to become tasteless. Loneliness—that age-old monster of the deep—led to terrifying hallucinations. His rudder broke 3 times. Storms swept him overboard, and had it not been for the rope he had tied around his waist, he would never have been able to pull himself back on board. Finally, after 78 days alone at sea, he sailed into Falmouth, Cornwall, England.
During those nights, he had wondered 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, 300 vessels, with horns blasting, escorted Tinkerbelle into port. And 40,000 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. But Robert couldn’t have done it alone. Standing on the dock was an even greater hero—Virginia. She had encouraged him on when others would have discouraged him.
Being alone in this world is difficult. Being alone without Christ is unbearable!