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Capt. William Pinkney as a sailor

Capt. William Pinkney first gained fame in 1991 when he sailed 27,000 miles around the world solo at age 55 in a Valiant 47 called Commitment and became the first black man to make the journey via Cape Horn.

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In November 1998, Pinkney leased a Formosa 78 and sailed to the Caribbean from Puerto Rico on a six-month voyage with educators retracing the "Middle Passage" slave trade routes used during the 18th and 19th centuries. In 1996, he joined the board of directors for Amistad America which is based in New Haven, Conn., and in 1998 stepped down from the board to become involved with the building of the replica Freedom Schooner Amistad at Mystic Seaport in Mystic, Conn. When the vessel launched from Mystic in 2000, he became captain and, as he puts it, "technically" retired from captaincy in 2003. He would return in 2007 as master emeritus and spokesman. Pinkney himself took the wheel as they made port in Havana.

Pinkney is the author of the autobiography "As Long As It Takes: Meeting the Challenge."

See related article:

- Historic homecoming for Amistad replica

This article originally appeared in the Connecticut and New York Home Waters section of the July 2010 issue.