Seventy-year-old Oak Bay sailor Glenn Wakefield, who suffered a stroke while sailing solo to the southern tip of South America, died on Monday night.
Wakefield, who launched from the Royal Victoria Yacht Club on Aug. 27, only made it as far as California. He suffered a stroke on Sept. 16, about 500 nautical miles northwest of San Francisco. He was rescued Sept. 20 by U.S. Coast Guard and taken to hospital and was still in critical condition when he was finally brought home on Sept. 30.
His wife MaryLou announced his death Tuesday on the blog they kept about his seafaring adventures, glennwakefieldaroundtheworld.com.
“It is with deep sadness that we let you know that our dear, sweet Glenn passed away peacefully last night at 10:14 p.m.,” MaryLou wrote. “As in life, Glenn chose the way he wanted to die, which was to do it on his own terms, and without any assistance. He left this world much like he lived it, surrounded by his adoring family, who wished him fair winds and a smooth journey.”
A tribute and celebration of Wakefield’s life will be announced soon, MaryLou added.
“Thank you for always supporting Glenn and particularly his big dream,” MaryLou wrote. “It meant everything to him to know you were along for the ride.”
During his stay the U.S. hospital bills began to add up and the family started a Gofundme account as Wakefield had not purchased any traveller health insurance that applied to the U.S. as he did not expect to be there. As of Oct. 7, the Gofundme had raised $151,000 of the $370,000 goal.
Wakefield’s latest sailing adventure was his third attempt to finish the single-handed, western circumnavigation of the world. After two failed attempts to sail the entire globe in 2008 and 2013, this time Wakefield was content if he could just complete the final leg. It would mean making the trek in two sections, but, at 70 years old, he was OK with that.
The turnaround point was about 1,000 kilometres west of Argentina towards the Falkland Islands and would have been an approximately 18,000-nautical-mile voyage (33,000 kilometres) in total, lasting between eight and 10 months.
It also included a planned visit with members of the Argentinian military who rescued him in 2008 and with whom he kept in touch.
Wakefield regularly took part in the Swiftsure races and loved the Vic-Maui race.
He leaves behind his wife MaryLou and daughters Claire and Nicola.
“We will remember him as a man who lived his life with passion,” MaryLou said. “One hand on the tiller, scotch in the other, his infectious laugh letting us know he was living life to the very fullest.”
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