Island sailor Natasha Lambert, who has no use of her arms or legs and uses her breath and tongue to control her boat, has begun a 3,000-mile journey across the Atlantic.
Multi-award-winning Natasha, 23, from Cowes, left Gran Canaria on Sunday (Nov 22) and plans to reach St Lucia in around three weeks’ time.
Natasha, who has Athetoid Cerebral Palsy and uses a wheelchair, is among five crew on her boat and 300 sailors in the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC). Her 46ft (14m) catamaran, Blown Away, was fitted with the ‘sip and puff’ technology by her father, Gary.
Natasha, who was awarded a British Empire Medal for her charity work, is hoping the crossing will raise £30,000 for MissIsle, her own sailing school, Cowes RNLI and the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust.
Cowes station’s operations manager Mark Southwell said: “First the Solent, then round the Island, followed by across the Channel. Now this….
“Lifeboat crews well understand what it takes to be at sea, and we have nothing but admiration for you and your crew. Safe sailing, Tash, and fair winds!”
A general message from the station added: “Everyone at Cowes RNLI sends a heart-felt bon voyage message to you as you set off on your biggest maritime challenge to date.
“The station is honoured to again to be chosen as a beneficiary of your wonderful fund-raising. Already we are most grateful for the money raised from your past amazing exploits on the sea, which paid for the station’s kitchen and the extra-large TV screen used for training purposes.
“May you and your fellow-crew members complete the crossing both safely and enjoyably!”
More than 50 boats are taking part in the event, which has been running for 35 years.