First Black man to sail around the world solo via the Capes dies in Atlanta

Bill Pinkney
Bill Pinkney(Atlanta News First)
Published: Sep. 1, 2023 at 11:38 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - The first African-American man to sail around the world solo via the Capes has died in Atlanta at the age of 87.

Captain Bill Pinkney gained recognition in 1992 when he sailed around the world solo, passing the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Horn. Pinkney, a Chicago native, began and ended his journey in Boston. He sailed east toward the Cape of Good Hope, then across the ocean to Tasmania before the South Pacific, rounding Cape Horn and returning to Boston.

He later wrote a children’s book about the experience.

He died after falling down a staircase and suffering a brain injury.

His widow Migdalia said, “Being Black never stopped Bill. The racism in the U.S. never stopped Bill. People telling him he couldn’t do things never stopped him. People telling him he was too old--He did sail around the world when he was 55! If he believed people that he was old, he would have never done it.”

Pinkney was not the first Black man to sail around the world alone; that honor belongs to Teddy Seymour, who completed the journey by sailing through the Panama and Suez Canals.

Seymour completed the trip in 1987. According to the Bay State Banner, he traveled through the Suez Canal to avoid Durban, South Africa, which was still under a racist apartheid policy.

Pinkney completed his trip mere months after a referendum began the end of apartheid.