Jim Dickson, the 41-year-old District resident trying to become the first blind person to cross the Atlantic Ocean alone in a sailboat, was reported about 60 miles off Bermuda last night, riding out the strong winds and high seas of Tropical Storm Arlene.
Winds throughout the day averaged about 45 miles an hour, and although Dickson deployed a sea anchor, "he's been going up and down like a cork," said Stephen Graham, project coordinator for the voyage, in a telephone interview from Bermuda.
Dickson, who left Portsmouth, R.I., Aug. 4 in his 36-foot sloop for what he hoped would be a month-long voyage to Plymouth, England, was forced to head for Bermuda after navigational and piloting equipment malfunctioned, according to a friend in Washington.
After repairs or replacements are made, Dickson expects to resume the voyage, Graham said last night. "He's not having a good time," Graham said, referring to the effects of the storm, "but he still wants to go to England."
Dickson, who is northeast of Bermuda after sailing about 650 miles, used the boat's motor yesterday to travel a few miles toward the island, but spent most of the day "lashing things down" and sleeping, according to Graham.
"We expect that around dawn winds are going to abate enough for him to sail in," Graham said. A pilot is expected to board Dickson's boat to guide it past the shoals and into harboar at St. George, he said.
The spokesman said Dickson would remain in Bermuda at least through Tuesday, resting and attending a fundraising event. The detour probably will add about $8,000 to the trip's cost, said Sandy Newman, director of Project Vote, the Washington group from which Dickson is on leave.