This Man Sailed Solo From Portugal To Argentina For His Father’s 90th Birthday After All Flights Were Cancelled Because Of The Pandemic


By Anthony McLennan / Truth Theory

Juan Manuel Ballesteros braved a succession of perils as he sailed solo across the Atlantic Ocean after coronavirus flight restrictions had left him stranded in Portugal.

Ballesteros had planned to be with his elderly parents in Argentina for his father’s 90th birthday.

But before he was able to fly from Portugal, international flights were canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Undeterred, the experienced mariner took matters in his own hands and decided to take a long way home – with a more than 10,000km trip across the Atlantic Ocean.

Worried also that naval travel could be restricted, Ballestero hastily departed the Portuguese island of Porto Santo after taking just a couple of days to equip himself aboard his 10-meter solo sailing boat.

Stocked with rice, fruit, tuna, and wine – but having forgotten to pack medicine – he set sail in mid-March with the goal of arriving in Mar del Plata  75 days later.

Map from Portugal to Argentina

Anything but plain sailing

There was a sign of things to come when he was refused entry at Cape Verde, where he had hoped to replenish supplies.

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A huge setback followed when he ran out of fuel after crossing the equator, forcing him to operate on wind power. To add insult to injury, Ballestero ran out of wine on day 38.

Things got worse when the wind dropped and the sailing boat barely moved for 10 days. During the inactivity, barnacles grew under the boat and Ballestero had to risk a potential shark attack by diving into the sea to remove them.

Although he only had a radio for company, the experienced sailor also managed to embrace the solo nature of his journey.

“It was really myself and the whole universe,” he said “At night there were a lot of stars and sometimes the dolphins would come too…They streaked the ocean with green fluorescent light.”

Despite the challenges he faced, Ballestero’s solo voyage reached its conclusion after 85 days out on the ocean.

It was a little later than planned and he didn’t make it on time to celebrate with his father on his 90th birthday.

He was however able to join his parents for Father’s Day as his brave decision to sail across the world paid off.


Map credit: Google maps

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