Forty-five years ago this June one of the most amazing feats of human endeavor centered on a middle-aged copy editor and a 13.5 foot sailboat that sailed the ocean blue. On June 1st, 1965 – Robert Manry, a copy editor for the Plain Dealer left Falmouth, Mass for Falmouth, England on the smallest craft to ever sail across the Atlantic Ocean (at the time) in a 13.5 foot wish and a prayer called Tinkerbelle. Talk about daunting odds. Talk about an herculean tale of man versus nature.

This photo provided courtesy of Cleveland Press Archives.

Manry was a most interesting fellow. He was born in Landour, India as the son of Presbyterian missionaries. After World War II he became a reporter for a series of newspapers and in 1953 was hired by the Plain Dealer as a copy editor. His love of sailing began on the Jumna River in India during his youth. Manry purchased the tiny Tinkerbelle in 1958 and sailed it all over Lake Erie. He eventually modified the boat significantly for longer water voyages. By 1965, he firmly believed he could take the tiny craft across the Atlantic Ocean – which has made victim of many a larger craft. As noted in a Time magazine article, “Having told no one except his wife and a few friends what he planned to do, 47 year old Robert Manry took his 13.5 foot sloop Tinkerbelle out of Falmouth, Mass, on a Sunday June morning and sailed right across the ocean to England. His splendid feat kindled admiration in men everywhere and secured for Tinkerbelle a place in the bravest annals of the sea.”

Photo provided courtesy of the Cleveland Press Archives.

The Falmouth, Mass to Falmouth, England journey was over 3,200 miles. The voyage took 78 days to complete. The Tinkerbelle was knocked over six times during the trip and at one particularly critical juncture in the trip Manry had to repair a broken rudder at sea. The trip was covered by many press services and the Plain Dealer. But when Manry entered the Port of Falmouth in England – euphoria!

Photo provided courtesy of the Cleveland Press Archives.

Manry was received in England as the hero he was. An amazing journey the few men have attempted much less successfully completed. How jealous I am of that journey, how proud I am of the same. Upon this return to Cleveland, Manry was hailed as a modern day hero and the Cleveland crowds came out in abundance.

Photo provided courtesy of the Cleveland Press Archives.

Look at the crowds! Amazing. This is a wonderful photo of Manry and his wife Virginia waving to the crowds in front of Tower City and Higbee’s Department Store. Tinkerbelle is in tow. Upon his return, Robert wrote a book about his experiences and donated the Tinkerbelle to the Western Reserve Historical Society – where it remains on display today. It is stunning how small this strong craft really is when seen live. Manry lived a global life, a rich life a heroes life. He passed away too early in February 1971 and was buried in Mt. Lebanon, Pennsylvania.


About Tech Czar
Former "Tech Czar" for the City of Cleveland, fascinated by the civic space, history (Cleveland & Military), entrepreneurship, social media, food and travel. My first book on Cleveland history will be published by History Press (www.historypress.net) this fall.

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