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Sailing for Parkinson's
At 80 years old
May 24, 2023

small tremor in the hand. Maybe some stiffness or trouble walking. The inability to write or speak as well as before. Usually the signs of natural aging, these are also the signs of Parkinson’s Disease.

Graham stands in SV Carlita while docked in Oriental harbor. he’s on the first leg of his circumnavigation around the Pamlico Sound.

Ten years ago, Graham Byrnes received his diagnosis. Graham is a nautical architect and boat builder living in Vandemere. Sunday, May 21, was his 80th birthday. He’s celebrating his milestone with a cruise around the whole of Pamlico Sound.

Graham raises the sails after leaving Oriental’s free dock.

He and Carlita, his Core Sound 17 Mark 3 ketch, are making the 500 nautical mile journey to raise funds for Rock Steady Boxing of New Bern. Rock Steady Boxing is a fitness program for Parkinson’s patients drawing heavily on the drills and moves found in boxing. It’s non-contact and high energy, targeting mobility, flexibility, and coordination while also providing community and support.

It has been just over 10 years since I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease and I never expected to make it to 80, let alone still have the desire or feel fit enough to attempt this cruise. I believe that Rock Steady Boxing has played a big part in that and I thought it would be good to try and give something back

The route around Pamlico Sound; about 500 nautical miles.

Graham is calling his adventure Sailing for Parkinson’s. The funds will go to the Bike Box Project of New Bern, a 501©(3) organization that organizes and promotes the Rock Steady Boxing classes and a Parkinson’s support group.

Parkinson’s has been around for a long time and the rate of new diagnoses is ever increasing. There is no cure and there have been no real breakthroughs in fifty years, just treating the symptoms. Specialized and regular hard exercise is about the best that we have right now to slow the progression.

Contribute to Graham’s fundraiser here.

Follow Graham’s journey around the Sound here.

SV Carlita, named for Graham’s wife.
Trimming the lines.
Graham passes Garland Fulcher Seafood.
Beyond the harbor, the winds pick up.
Underway to New Bern, next stop on the Pamlico Sound Circumnavigation.

Posted Wednesday May 24, 2023 by Allison DeWeese

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