ONLY ON 3: Wilmington man sailing solo across Atlantic thought he would die

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Submitted: Thu, 06/16/2011 - 3:59am
Updated: Thu, 06/16/2011 - 1:27pm

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — As you saw ONLY ON 3 last week, a Wilmington man set sail Thursday morning for a journey that would take him across the Atlantic to Portugal.

Greg Frucci’s first stop is Bermuda. He has yet to hit the island and has already faced two strong storms.

Frucci’s full trip should talk about a month. The first leg of the trip has taken one week, but in that week friends tells us Frucci has already been pushed to the brink of calling off the voyage.

“Within the first three days he went into such turbulent conditions he thought he was going to die,” Sheila Brothers said.

Brothers is also producing a documentary on Frucci’s journey. She has been keeping a close eye on the first leg of the journey that has already had some close calls.

Brothers says contact with Frucci has been minimal, but she received this message via satellite phone Saturday morning, the day after Frucci’s first big storm:

“Hey shelia. It’s Greg. Just wanted to call and just let you know I’m doing good. Last night was kind of a rough night. I had some pretty high winds and some big seas. Definitely very interesting.”

“Poor Greg,” Brother said. “We did not expect such weather and turbulent conditions.”

Brothers says the good thing is that Frucci is safe, besides some damage to his sail boat.

“He has an issue with his rudder; his radar reflector as well,” Brothers said.

Frucci faced a second storm Tuesday night, but has since contacted the crew making a documentary on his journey. Brothers received an update on Frucci during our interview Wednesday afternoon. A friend said Frucci was about 150 miles from Bermuda and hoped to get their by Friday.

Brothers says the first storm took a lot out of Frucci. She says he even thought about heading back to Wilmington. Instead Frucci pulled it together and kept on.

Before he left Wilmington Frucci told WWAY he was aware of what he was going to face in the Atlantic and would use the lessons his father taught him before he passed away.

“It’s an illustration of challenging fears,” Frucci said before setting sail. “We all have them. You have them, and so you face them or you sit down and do nothing and if you sit down and do nothing you go nowhere.”

With the damage to Frucci’s boat there is no telling how long he will be in Bermuda before continuing his journey to Portugal. We will make sure to keep you updated.


  • Hobie Cat says:

    Well,gee,I guess I’m sort of curious about how much (or little) experience this “old man” has had on the “sea.” With all the technology in existence today, sailing solo across the Atlantic (even without stopping in Bermuda)isn’t all that awe-inspiring. How long has Captain Frucci been preparing for this, and why did he choose a foul-weather day to embark on his “voyage of self-discovery.” Save the drama for after this guy has accomplished something! If it has taken him this long to hobble in to Bermuda with a damaged boat , I doubt that this ass-clown can complete the rest of trip in three weeks! Unless, of course, he accidentally crashes into southwest Africa. Give me a break.

  • Guestorator says:

    And…. this is news?

  • Guest85 says:

    I hope no harm comes to this ill-prepared sailor, but I have to ask, when did such idiocy become ‘news.’ Oh–I forgot about RC Soles, and B Berger, etc., etc.

  • Don A. King says:

    For some living their dream is for others insanity. These critical generally negative people who live in their safe places, in their ‘lazy boy chairs’, sitting in that chat room area, waiting to bounce with their opinions whose only excitement is lived through others in the make believe world of TV. Yet when one man dares to live a real adventure, his dream, there you are ready to condemn, point fingers and scoff. Yes, it is easy to sit back and say he was unprepared, unaware, and clueless as to the unknown. You were there to say Columbus was crazy. You were there to condemn the first ship to the moon. That it was impossible that men could fly and why even try. To what purpose would it serve? What drives Greg is that same passion that sent men beyond the scope of their own fear to discover something greater than themselves, even at the cost of their own lives. I also understand that you will never get it! Thank God for those that do!

  • Sunita!!!! says:

    I think this guy is fantastic! He is living a dream, on a personal quest to do something bigger than the average man. While the news today is filled with stories about our failing economy and teen suicides because of bullying, and crooked politicians, and moms who murder their children, and the constant threat of terrorism, I have to tell you that I love reading about something positive and uplifting.

    I have seen comments on here people who say that this is a waste of the taxpayer’s money, that he should have checked the weather before venturing out, etc, etc, etc…well shame on all of you negative Nellies!

    Greg Frucci is a lifelong tax payer. If the Coast Guard was called out to do their job, well, that’s their job…regardless of who is out there. And this trip was privately funded. If you didn’t help fund it, then you don’t have a dog in this fight. And the people who did help are all supporters of this dream and have no complaints. So let’s drop that tactic from here on out shall we?

    And, I don’t know ANYONE who can predict the weather with even 60% accuracy so the comments about needing to check the weather before venturing out is just sour grapes.

    I am loving the fact that in today’s world, there are still people out here who want to dream bigger than what they have been told is the limit. Greg Frucci is one of those people and I am so happy to read something in the news that makes me smile and makes me proud to live in a country where you can get up in the morning and decide to do something like this.

    Go GREG!!!

  • jackie says:

    It always amazes me how petty and small minded some people can be. I cal it bursting balloons, you can’t conceive of any life other than your own miserable existence. A man climbs Mt. Everest, it’s a calling, a man sails to Portugal, it’s a calling..what is your problem with this. And when was weather EVER predictable, do you think he just climbed into his boat and decided to sail away. He has a sailing background, he consulted, he studied, he stocked, he equipped..the rest is up to Mother Nature and fate. So, if you don’t have anything nice to say, just shutup.

  • Guestoftheday says:

    First off he’s a NOVICE with very limited knowledge and skill. Any experienced ocean going person knows that this is the WORST time of year to adventure out on a trip like this ESPECIALLY with no experience…obviously if he was a seasoned sailor he would know this.
    This time of year is notorious for:

    1. Pop up thunderstorms (little ole sailboat with masts on a flat ocean…REALLY bad idea).

    2. Squalls

    3. Freighters (anytime of year) on auto pilot that really don’t care about (or can see) a small sailboat and that certainly are NOT going to move out of his way

    4. Rogue waves

    5. Really active Highs and Lows and Jetstream

    6. Seas that can change in a heartbeat with the jetstream etc.

    There’s a line between “Fate” and STUPID or UNEDUCATED.

    “Consulting” or “studying” and NOT A SUBSTITUTE for hands on EXPERIENCE. Just because you’ve consulted people about nuclear reactors and studied them does NOT mean you can walk into Progress Energy and work on a reactor. You have to have hands on EXPERIENCE.

  • Mason says:

    Why the negative posts here?
    This guy is living his dream. I respect him for that.
    He probably could have picked a better time of the year to transit the atlantic but you have to go when you are ready. There is no perfect time for a bluewater passage.
    You “Internet Sailors” should keep your comments to yourself, what are you’ll doing, sailing your Hobie Cats around Banks Channel?
    Good Luck Mr.Frucchi

  • Team Frucci!! says:

    Don’t be a hater…it’s nice to see someone take the path of least resistance and have courage. And he made it through, so now he’s a little wiser. I am a little jealous and wish him the best of luck as he continues this quest.

  • Guest124678 says:

    You could have just listened to your weather radio, or the weather channel or WWAY’s weather forecast to hear and see the fronts that were pushing through and delay your trip by a day or two….that’s what savvy sailors do…..Southwest winds 20-25 knots, seas 6-8ft building to 8-10ft in the afternoon….forecasts like that mean you keep your ass on the hill!!

  • Giraffe Whisperer says:

    Like the weather forecast is ever right. Especially a week out.

  • NoBullShipper says:

    Well, it’s good to hear that at least this idiot is alive and that his malconceived voyage is still happening. As crazy as this is, it’d be sinful to wish this moron in his little boat to be dead.

  • NoBullShipper says:

    Baloney…. this “jaunt” was illconceived from the get-go. I have no “hate” for this joker playing with (errr ahhhhh “finding himself”) except for the potential of the need for taxpayer funds needing to be expended to rescue his sorry arse.

  • Sponge says:

    Wow, it must be wrong for someone to fulfill a lifelong dream. Don’t be negative because he has just chosen to share his experience with people who cannot.

    Didn’t know the Coast Guard was a waste of tax payer’s money for a lifelong tax payer.

  • NoBullShipper says:

    Sorry, SpongeBob, I too am a life long taxpayer. As to this “voyage”, so what…. men have kayaked across the north Atlantic and teenage girls have circumnavigated the globe. May God bless Mr. Frucci and keep him safe, but his “trip” is really no big deal.

  • Adventurer says:

    Great update – this will be an interesting documentary to see unfold! Thanks for the update, was hoping to see more of his story unleashed. Looks like he will be back on land soon.

  • Shaun O'Rourke says:

    I think anyone who wants to grab life by the horns and give it his or her best shot needs our support as human beings. Life is a journey and we all should embrace the fact that some people seek out adventure.

    It’s easy to sit behind a keyboard and type negative comments. When was the last time “you” ever did anything in your life? Or wanted to find out if there is more to life than iphones, computers, ipads, video games, or just sitting around watching TV?

    As far as tax payers picking up the tab if there is a rescue, so be it. I can point out tons of pork barrel projects in the billions of dollars on the Federal level as well as the millions spent in our great city of Wilmington that are for “Good Ole Boy” projects.

    They can have my tax money. Go Frucci!

  • Aaron Reynolds says:

    I think it’s great that a guy is pushing himself to the limits and not letting adversity end his trip in it’s nascent stages.

    It takes more cajones than most people have.

  • Commonsensenotcommontoday says:

    That was his baptism in fire. You can’t do a trans-Lant without expecting storms, and he really should have started thirty to forty-five days earlier to get the best weather. He should have a spare radar reflector and if not, they’re cheap – he can get one and re-rig it in Bermuda.

    Getting to Europe is the easy part. Coming home is more difficult because of the prevailing Westerlies, but GPS and auto-steer have made even that easier than it used to be.

    This is a grown man accepting responsibility for his own actions and if he has a reasonable level of sailing skill, he’s off on a fantastic adventure. How big was Chichester’s Gypsy Moth? 24 feet? And he rounded both the Cape and the Horn in the Southern Oceans. I believe he pitchpoled once.

    I envy you, Greg!

  • Don King says:

    Message from Greg. 116 miles from Bermuda. Expects to be there, he says “expects” to be there close to sundown tomorrow. In good spirits.

  • Giraffe Whisperer says:

    If there were more people like Frucci we would still have diving boards in this country. Thank god there are still people with a since of adventure.

  • rickkysand says:

    We should all be as lucky as this man. He has a dream , and he is living it. How many people can say that and mean it.

  • Guest124678 says:

    NOAA does the forecast on the weather radio and those were the conditions on the DAY HE LEFT and was forecast to get worse (which obviously it did!!) later in the week because of the low pressure sitting offshore and the front coming in from Florida.
    Our “Weathermen” on tv are NEVER right…but anyone who really knows what they are doing on the water has a weather radio or at least a weather radio built into their marine radio. A little bit of planning and less crying over leaving his dog could have really saved him some trouble.

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