Alone in the Atlantic on a 4-meter. Robert Manry’s story became a movie


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Those who think that sailing is a business for a select few do not know the story of Robert Manry. In 1965 Robert, seemingly a typical suburban middle-class man from Cleveland, Ohio, decided to embark on a full-scale adventure: to cross the Atlantic Ocean alone on a small sailboat, the Tinkerbelle, only 4.11 meters long.

He succeeded in 78 days, after 3,200 miles from Cape Cod to England. “I think one of the great tragedies of life is the fact that young people have many dreams,” Robert Manry said, “and that when they grow up, colliding with harsh reality, they give up one by one, until they give up all of them. I definitely didn’t want that to happen to me.”

The official photo of the 2019 Ocean Film Festival

His story is told in the documentary “Manry at Sea” by American Steve Wystrach, in competition at the third edition of theOcean Film Festival, the film festival to be held on 15 stages in 14 Italian cities, offering a selection of the best short and medium-length films from the Australian festival of the same name and dedicated to planet water. It starts in Milan on Monday, October 14 at the CheBanca! National Theater. In addition to sailing, behind the big screen surfing in extreme environments, free diving and above all them, the wild animals that populate the seas and oceans, true stars who need no catwalk.




Back to Manry.


Robert Neal Manry was born June 2, 1918, in the Himalya in Landour, India. He was the first of four brothers. His first adventures with navigation occurred on the Jumna River. At school plays (he was the founder of the philodrama) his favorite role was always that of the pirate. In 1936 he left India to attend university in the U.S. With the advent of World War II, he initially refused to enlist and was imprisoned, eventually being drafted as a photographer in the U.S. Army in Europe.

After the war he worked at several newspapers in Ohio and Pennsylvania and married his wife Virginia in 1950. The family moved to Cleveland in 1953 and Robert began working in The Plain Dealer as a proofreader. He bought his own boat, the Tinkerbelle, and in 1958 made a series of repairs and used it in the years to follow for family vacations.

In 1965, on the eve of his 47th birthday, he decided to fulfill his dream, to cross the Atlantic from west to east on his small boat. He set off secretly from Cape Cod, fearing that if anyone discovered his intentions they might stop him. After five weeks and about a thousand miles of sailing, he encountered a ship that picked up his mail, at which point news of his extraordinary adventure began to circulate.

The newspaper where he worked set up a real promotional maneuver by bringing his wife and children to England to surprise him and arranging a meeting with them shortly before his arrival. But in the meantime, a competing newspaper made a plan to intercept the Tinkerbelle while it was at sea. In this way they were able to “steal” the story from their competitors who could only watch the meeting and the interview done at sea by the planes with which they flew over the boat.

Thus, what started out as a virtually secret adventure became a real media sensation, and by the time Robert arrived in England after traveling 3200 miles in 78 days he had become a veritable celebrity and was greeted by 50,000 cheering people. The documentary Manry at Sea reconstructs the whole story through original documents, period footage, pictures, letters, diaries, and published articles, and offers a perfect portrait of how Robert spent his days, the different moods of the sea, the ships he encountered, and especially his encounter with a submarine on a mission! It is the perfect story of a dream come true.

Robert when he returned to Cleveland stopped working for The Plain Dealer. According to rumors this happened because his employers did not forgive him for the fact that it was his competitors who secured the scoop, but in reality the trip opened up new career opportunities for him as a writer and lecturer. In 1966 his book “Tinkerbelle” quickly became a best seller.





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