THE SAILING LIFE
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This month, we’re pleased to feature the adventures of Bill Pinkney, a highly respected African American sailor who set sail to Cuba.
William “Bill” Pinkney, first black man to solo circumnavigate the world via Cape Horn and Master Emeritus of Freedom Schooner AMISTAD, sailed the 129-foot Baltimore Clipper into Havana Harbor on March 25, 2010 in observance of International Slavery Remembrance Day as observed by the United Nations.
Pinkney’s celebrated arrival is the culmination of a 50-year sailing career for the 74-year-old Connecticut resident who was the founding captain of the vessel, a project of Amistad America, Inc of New Haven, CT, in 2000. His historic arrival also marked the tenth anniversary of the launch of the ship at Mystic Seaport, Mystic, CT, where it was built over a two-year time span. The ship is a reproduction of a vessel commandeered in 1839 by 53 African captives that eventually lead to the first Human Rights case in the U.S. Supreme Court. (See www.amistadamerica.org for details)
Pinkney, who was the feature of the Peabody Award-winning documentary, “The Incredible Voyage of Bill Pinkney,” is author of the John Southam award-winning autobiography, “As Long As It Takes.” Semi-retired, Captain Pinkney gives inspirational presentations about his sailing adventures and serves as the official spokesperson for the ship, and along with the crew, acts as docent.
Amistad arrived in Havana after brief visit to Matanzas, Cuba, cradle of Afro-Cuban culture and was previously in the Dominican Republic following a cross-cultural voyage with Dominican and Haitian students. In keeping with its mission, hundreds of school children visited the ship while it was in harbor in Santo Domingo.
While in Cuba, Pinkney and team will learn more about the Amistad story that began in Havana and ended in the U.S. Supreme Court, with the hope that more details on the schooner itself can be uncovered in the archives of the historical museums.
Upon his return in early April, Captain Pinkney plans to conduct interviews and speaking engagements, including a seminar at Strictly Sail Pacific.