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Tenacious sailor back at Catawba Island, for now

Annie Zelm • Jan 28, 2012 at 8:00 AM

Thomas Louis Corogin's wanderlust is already calling him back to sea.

It's been just a few weeks ago since he returned home to the comfort of his condo at Catawba Cascades, after he was rescued from a remote part of the Pacific. 

After a week of sailing some 500 miles south of Easter Island on his 32-foot Westsail, the TLC, a piece of rigging that holds up the mast snapped, leaving a tangled mess of cables. Unable to steer in some of the world’s most remote waters and days from the nearest port, Corogin made a distress call Jan. 2 to the U.S. Coast Guard, which called in the Chilean Navy.

He was 2,000 miles from South America’s Cape Horn, the closest he’d ever come to reaching his goal on his sixth attempt — or seventh, if he counts the time high winds sent him scrambling back from the Virgin Islands during hurricane season.

“I hated to give up what I’d accomplished, but I reached a point where I realized it was impossible to continue,” he said.

Corogin, 84, sat down with the Register to tell the tale: 

SR: You’ve said to people that age means nothing; what’s important is that you’re alive. You’re obviously not worried about sailing alone at your age, but are there others who have tried to talk you out of it?

TC: One of the fellows I used to sail with came to me and said, ‘Tom, you’re blind in one eye and you’re almost deaf. Are you sure you should be making this trip?’ My brother said, ‘Did you ever think about taking your boat to the Bahamas and anchoring in a quiet cove somewhere, having a lobster dinner out in the cockpit?’ No. I would enjoy it. But I’ve got other things that have a higher priority — sailing Cape Horn. God only gives you so many years, and I’m trying to use mine.

Want to read more from the Q&A with Corogin? PIck up Saturday's Register and read this front-page story by award-winning reporter Annie Zelm.

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