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Oak Bay sailor stranded in U.S. hospital after suffering massive stroke at sea

An Oak Bay sailor’s third shot at circumnavigating the world solo has come to an abrupt halt after he suffered a massive stroke at sea.

Glenn Wakefield, 70, set sail aboard West Wind II on Sept. 6 planing to go the ‘western route’ making his way to a point about 1,000 miles off the coast of southern Argentina. Wakefield, who kept a daily blog, experienced his ‘first blow’ on Sept. 13 being battered by gale-force winds. His last post was on Sept. 14, his ninth day at sea.

Two days later, Wakefield suffered a massive stroke, approximately 500 nautical miles west of San Francisco. Before losing consciousness, he managed to send a message to his family that he needed help.

Currently, Wakefield is in critical condition in a trauma centre in San Jose, California after a 48-hour rescue at sea and emergency medevac to a specialized hospital. Emergency surgery was performed to remove a blood clot in his brain and he is still in the intensive care unit.

RELATED: Oak Bay mariner sets sail on solo voyage to finish westward circumnavigation of globe

According to a GoFundMe launched by the family, medical expenses and care are expected to be over $100,000. As Wakefield didn’t anticipate touching U.S. soil, he didn’t have any American medical insurance. Wakefield’s boat is still adrift off the coast of California, which his family expects will be another added cost.

The U.S. Coast Guard Rescue Coordination Centre (RCC) Alameda took responsibility for Wakefield’s rescue. His wife MaryLou Wakefield was able to notify the RCC about Wakefield’s medical distress. A SafetyNet broadcast was sent out, asking any vessels in the area to assist if possible. At this point Glenn Wakefield was approximately 420 nautical miles northwest of San Francisco.

The Coast Guard, working with a nearby ship and a small rescue boat, transferred Wakefield, who was unconscious, to the larger ship.

READ ALSO: Sailor returns to Victoria after decade at sea

The next day, he was hoisted from the larger ship by the 129th Rescue Wing airborne division. Several in-air refuelings were required and a total of five planes were involved in the rescue. From there, Glenn was transported to San Jose Regional Hospital.

“This is a devastating situation for our family. We are shocked, saddened and filled with worry for Glenn’s recovery,” reads the GoFundMe. “We never imagined he would be stricken by something like this. All the hours we have spent worrying about the gales and seas he has to manage … but never this.”

Wakefield’s family is asking for financial assistance to help get him home and to cover the cost of his “daunting medical expenses.”

To make a donation visit bit.ly/33URRno.

Kendra Crighton

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Kendra Crighton
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