Twenty-two years age on June 10 1992 the New Your Times published the following story “Sailor Makes Solo Voyage Around Globe.” The press release was about William Pinkney who sailed his 47-foot cutter, the “Commitment,” into Boston harbor today, 22 months after setting out to become one of the first blacks to sail solo around the world.
“More than 1,000 Boston public school students, who followed his voyage by radio and computer, cheered and waved banners from the pier as Mr. Pinkney put in at the Charlestown Navy Yard. Mr. Pinkney’s wife, Ina, and 100 officers from the Navy, Coast Guard and National Park Service greeted the weary, but spirited, sailor,” according to the Times.
At the time Captain William “Bill” Pinkney (Sailor Adventurer Author Inspirational Speaker) was “A 56-year-old public relations executive from Chicago, and the first black man to sail around the world on a route that skirted the southernmost capes.”
According to the website of the National Association of Black Scuba Divers (NABS) “The flags of both of Captain Bill Pinkney’s countries, Sierra Leone and the United States, are represented on his ship.”
Additionally, according to (NABS) “Captain Pinkney’s 22-month-long voyage covered 27,000 miles and took him around the five southern capes, including Cape Horn at the tip of South America, one of the most difficult sailing passages in the world. When he arrived at Boston Harbor, after having successfully circumnavigated the globe, Pinkney became the fourth American to achieve this feat.”
In November 1998, Pinkney embarked on a second journey, setting sail from the Caribbean on an historic voyage to retrace the “Middle Passage” slave trade routes. The five-month-long voyage took Pinkney, his three-person crew, and a rotating group of American schoolteachers to six countries: Puerto Rico, Barbados, Brazil, Ghana, Senegal, and the United States. They traveled on his 80-foot sailboat, and the teachers created classroom materials for schools across America.
Pinkney told interviewers that his quest was to visit those African countries from where his slave ancestors left in chains, most never to return. “I’m a descendant of those who came in the hold…now having ascended to the wheel,” he said. “I think…getting on an airplane and flying to Senegal, flying to Ghana, it’s not the same as taking an ocean voyage knowing that the waters over which you pass contain the bodies of those who refused to leave the continent, and found the only way out was to go overboard.”