POLAND, Ohio (WKBN) – It’s something that could have been the inspiration for a Jimmy Buffett song or an Ernest Hemingway novel, but one local man is about to leave for Ireland on his sailboat.
“But why not? If you don’t do crazy things, you live to be old and they put you in a nursing home,” said Ed Holmes, of Poland.
The 83-year-old General Motors retiree, and a school teacher before that, said he has been sailing for 60 years, mostly at places like Lake Erie or the Mosquito reservoir.
He admits his family doesn’t think much of his latest adventure.
“They think I’m crazy. They think I shouldn’t do it,” Holmes said.
His course will take him from Conneaut past Buffalo to North Tonawanda, New York, where he’ll get on the Erie Canal. When he reaches Troy, just outside of Albany, he’ll sail down the Hudson River to New York City and then across the Atlantic.
“It’s only 3,000 miles from New York to Loop Head, the lighthouse at the end of the Shannon River,” Holmes said.
To get there, he’ll be sailing an 18 footer with twin-fixed keels to help keep him from overturning in heavy seas. The boat is almost 60 years old. He traded a riding lawn mower for it about a decade ago.
He said the trip will take three to four months and he plans to sail around the clock, using only fore and aft sails and an electric trolling motor powered by solar panels.
“You keep your GPS working so you know where you are and whether you’re making progress or going backward,” Holmes said.
Once he gets to Ireland, he hopes to catch a military flight that will bring him back home again.