Double amputee’s record-setting sail ends with perilous journey through a Kona low

Dustin Reynolds is a record-setting sailor. The double-amputee made it around the world all by himself.
Published: Dec. 17, 2021 at 4:36 PM HST|Updated: Dec. 17, 2021 at 4:39 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Dustin Reynolds is a record-setting sailor. The double-amputee made it around the world all by himself.

“I do have a bit of experience now. I’ve been on the boat for seven-and a-half years,” he said.

But the last leg of his sail from Nuku Hiwa in the Marquesas Islands to Kona was a tough one. He went right into the Kona low that brought torrential rains and flooding to the state.

He recorded some of it on his GoPro camera. One clip shows storms forming all around him.

“Here we go. We have a full panorama of squalls,” he said in the video. “It’s nice on this side although there’s still a few forming over there too. This is gonna be fun.”

The system that hammered the state with rain hit him head on after he crossed the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone. Another video clip showed the rain relentlessly pounding his sailboat.

“That convergence zone followed me all the way from five degrees north all the way to Hawaii. I had an entire week of thunderstorms and bad weather,” he said.

During one stretch, he spent 48 hours watching his radar and trying to decipher which images were squalls and which were fishing boats.

“I didn’t sleep for the last two days because I had to navigate the fishing boats, then navigate the squalls, and try not to run into anything,” he said.

At one point he aimed his GoPro at himself.

“This trip is not being easy on me,” he said.

As his boat approached Hawaii Island from the south, the wind kicked up.

“The wind was directly against me, and sailboats can’t sail straight into the wind,” he said.

A screen capture from his Garmin tracker shows the back and forth path he had to cut just to make headway. It took 24 hours to travel the last 61 miles, a distance he normally could do in nine hours.

Then came the fog.

“As I was coming up the coast, there was no visibility,” he said. “There was this really dense fog. I couldn’t even see the island, even from a mile away.”

Finally, he sailed into a clearing.

“I can finally see the sky again. There’s light,” he said on his GoPro.

Despite the weather challenges, Reynolds’ seven-year ocean odyssey ended on Dec. 4 when he reached Kona and the waiting arms of his friends.

“Once I got to the Pacific, it became real, that I was almost home, and here I am.” he said.

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