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.

Photo Courtesy of: Steve Wystrach

His supplies on board were thought out and organized, and included 27 gallons of water, a sextant, a sea anchor, and a hand-crank radio with which he could send out an emergency signal if the need arose. For sustenance, he had cans of tuna, vegetables, fruit, and more. He had divided his entire food supply into individual days’ rations, subdividing that further into individual meals. When he reached the journey’s halfway point, he celebrated with plum pudding.

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.

Photo Courtesy of: Steve Wystrach

Though he would experience storms on the open ocean, Manry was less concerned about the weather than he was about another danger close to shore. “His greatest fear,” Wystrach says, “was crossing the shipping lanes and being run down by a ship.” Therefore, when he left the Cape, Manry kept himself awake for three days and two nights, using prescription medication to help stave off sleep. Near the end of that tiring stretch, he experienced the first of several hallucinations that would mark the journey.

One morning, a week after departing, Manry was awoken by “a bloodcurdling sound,” Wystrach says; it was a horn blast from the U.S.S. Tench, an American submarine. Manry had heard voices, but coming in and out of sleep, he shrugged off the sounds of the men talking on the sub’s deck; when the sub blew its horn, though, that got his attention.

En route, he saw sharks and dolphins and came across some 60 ships, including Russian trawlers, a Canadian destroyer taking part in a NATO anti-submarine exercise, and on July 5, the freighter, S.S. Steel Vendor—which stopped, chatted with him, and took his mail for posting.

The ocean itself was not always welcoming. Manry once road out 20-foot waves, and on a few occasions he was carried off course by strong currents. His rudder even broke—twice. He was thrown overboard a total of six times, though he was able to climb back aboard relatively easily as he had a lifeline tied to him for much of the trip.

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.

Photo Courtesy of: Steve Wystrach

Other than these situations, bouts of loneliness, and the fact that the trip took longer than he had estimated, Manry generally enjoyed the adventure. “For the most part,” Wystrach says, “he felt it was very pleasant sailing.”