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One-armed Chinese captain completes round-the-world voyage

(People's Daily Online)    10:39, June 18, 2020
One-armed Chinese captain completes round-the-world voyage
Xu Jingkun catches a tuna weighing 20 kilograms. (Photo/Courtesy of Xu Jingkun)

Xu Jingkun, a one-armed Chinese captain, recently finished a circumnavigation of the globe which took him three years, marking the first time a Chinese completed a round-the-world voyage with a catamaran sailboat.

Xu set sail from Turkey in June 2017 and returned to Portugal in June 2020 after traveling through the Mediterranean Sea, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Caribbean Sea, passing the Panama Canal, crossing the Pacific and Indian Ocean, and rounding the Cape of Good Hope.

“I had imagined the day when I would finish the voyage a million times before. I thought I might cry, jump into the ocean, or pour a whole bottle of champagne on myself. But when I actually reached Azores, I was in fact very calm. After 35 consecutive days of fierce winds, the sea conditions finally became peaceful in Azores, just like my mood,” Xu recalled how he felt when his dream came true.

During the three years, Xu and his wife traveled 63,000 kilometers with his catamaran named Qingdao Dream.

While there’s no doubt that the journey must be filled with marvelous experiences and adventures, Xu said what makes him proud is not the result of the voyage, but the friendship he gained during the journey.

“The result means nothing to me. What I treasure the most are the genuine friendships I formed with people I met in various places around the world who have the same dream as mine. We sincerely appreciated and encouraged each other,” Xu said.

According to Xu, he got stranded on the islands of Saint Helena due to the outbreak of COVID-19, when the grouper he cooked became a well-received dish at the anchorage and diner on his Qingdao Dream, one of the most popular activities among sailors from various countries who were also stranded in the area.

In Bali Bay, Madagascar, he realized the dream of enjoying lobster freely, Xu said jokingly, explaining that after giving many of their daily supplies, including his T-shirts, to local villagers who came to watch him and his wife, the “foreigners”, the couple received a lot of seafood from local fishermen.

On Chagos Islands, a remote region difficult to access, Xu and his wife joined sailors from various countries to barbecue, study weather together, and even learn Western cuisine from them, Xu disclosed, noting that all these memories are what he treasures the most about the journey.

There were various dangers and risks during the voyage, such as the risk of getting killed on islands inhabited by tribes with original civilization of 60,000 years ago, and encountering extreme weather when hailstones were as big as fists.

However, Xu seldom talks about these difficulties.

Xu lost his left forearm in an accident when he was 12 years old, living in despair for quite a long time after.

Fortunately, Xu has a strong will. He focused himself on sports and became well-known for running in his town later.

When he was 17-years-old, Xu was selected for the national sailing team for the disabled, and started to show his potential for the sport in various competitions.

Xu took part in the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games, completed a solo sailing around China Seas in 2013, and participated in the Mini Transat 2015, when he became the first Chinese contestant to finish the race after Guo Chuan, a famous Chinese mariner.

Xu doesn’t talk about his achievements much, but only mentioned that for the first time in human history, a captain with one arm sailed across the ocean with a 6.5-meter-long small boat, and the man came from China.

“I just want to tell ordinary people that even people like me have dreams and can accomplish them. They can do better than me. And I also want to show the disabled people like me that we have the right to own dreams and the capability to make them come true,” Xu said.

“Is there anything bad about only having one arm? I’ve thought about my lost arm for many times. I wonder what on earth I have lost because of that arm. As it turned out, I’ve lost nothing. It was exactly because of the missing arm that I had the capability to break that glass ceiling,” Xu said.

Xu’s next step will be made towards his ultimate goal: a non-stop solo circumnavigation of the globe.        


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