On June 21, accomplished blind athlete Peter Crowley made a successful solo kayak crossing of the English Channel. Although he paddled solo, he was traveling alongside a sighted guide who gave him verbal directions, and a cameraman.
He and his guide used lightweight Klepper kayaks, specially designed to fold up for transport.
Crowely almost didn’t complete the ride, for shortly after the launch his escort vessel’s diesel fumes covered his face with a cloud of fumes. If he could have seen them coming he would have held his breath. Instead he inhaled the fumes from the boat which was only a few feet away. Because the vessel had been idling and the engine not fully warmed up the fumes were quite intense. Immediately after breathing the diesel fumes he had almost overwhelming nausea.
Despite that incident Peter kept on.
He partnered with Helen Keller Services for the Blind (HKSB) in Brooklyn, New York to accomplish this feat. His long-standing affiliation with Helen Keller Services for the Blind began when he was in elementary and secondary school. The Braille Library at HKSB supplies school children with school books in Braille as well as large print. When Peter was in his early twenties he began to learn Braille. His at-home instruction was provided by HKSB. Additionally, HKSB also provided him with mobility training. In 1982, he became a counselor at Camp Helen Keller in Farmingdale, N.Y.
After his English Channel expedition, during the summer, Peter plans to kayak (solo) the length of Long Island, stopping along the way to speak to campers at Camp Helen Keller about overcoming obstacles and achieving their goals despite the challenges that they face. These are not Peter’s first adventures. In 1999 Peter canoed solo with his sighted guide in a separate canoe, 130 miles down the length of the Hudson River from Albany to New York City.