born South African
Born and grew up in East London, South Africa. Deafened at age 8 from a reaction to an antibiotic medication given for extensive third-degree burns suffered in an accident. Attended a "special school" until age 12, then graduated a regular high school in 1978. Married a hearing woman. At first he worked his own 200-acre farm, but increasing terrror attacks from the African National Congress prompted him and his family to emigrate to the U.S. in 1991, settling in Texas. He went to work as a welder/fabricator for a plastics chemical company until 2003, when he resigned for full-time pursuit of a long-time dream. In January 2005, became the first deaf person to sail around the world solo, on a 37-foot sailboat named Island Times. The voyage took almost 10 months. He was also an avid skydiver, with over 1500 jumps.