Remembering one sailor’s epic journey from Falmouth, MA to Falmouth, UK

When Robert Manry arrived on Cape Cod in the spring of 1965, his visit began like that of countless other tourists drawn to the region. On May 25, he and his wife, Virginia, and brother-in-law, John, enjoyed a breezy breakfast in Woods Hole, did some antiquing in Chatham, and took a drive to Provincetown. In the following days, Manry brought his boat, Tinkerbelle, to Falmouth’s Inner Harbor–launching at Litzkow Marina–and prepared the boat for an upcoming sail.

When the marina’s owner, Bill Litzkow noticed the trio loading the 13-1/2 foot sailboat with an extraordinary amount of supplies, something, to him, seemed fishy. Lipskow allegedly then asked: “What is he planning to do, sail across the Atlantic?”

Manry on a Mission

Painted by: Hannah Schoonmaker

Bingo. On June 1, 1965, Manry, a newspaper copyeditor from Willowick, Ohio and an experienced sailor, set off from Falmouth, commencing an epic, 2-1/2 month solo adventure that would bring him face to face with myriad dangers on the high seas—from sharks and storms to submarines—and eventually, 78 days later, to Falmouth, England.

Manry on a Mission

Photo Courtesy of: Steve Wystrach

“Sailing was a central part of his life,” says Steve Wystrach, a filmmaker from Los Angeles who is currently putting the final edits on a documentary about Manry. “This was a dream he had had since high school. Unlike a lot of people, he kept that dream alive as he grew up, and when he had an opportunity to do it, he took off. He made it happen.” Like this article, Wystrach’s film is scheduled for a 2015 release to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Manry’s journey.

On the first day of the trip, Manry sailed out of Falmouth Harbor, around Martha’s Vineyard, and set a course eastward. Though a daunting endeavor, this sailor was prepared. Manry, who had grown up in India as the son of a missionary, had purchased the diminutive Tinkerbelle in the late 1950s, repaired it, built a cabin and deck for it, and readied it for many nautical miles to come.