THE ROBERT MANRY PROJECT - MANRY AT SEA ~ In the Wake of a Dream. The story of a dream that came true


MANRY AT SEA ~ In the Wake of a Dream

A documentary film by Steve Wystrach

There is no dream so large, that it can’t fit into a tiny boat.



Hello. I’m Steve Wystrach, the producer and director of MANRY AT SEA. I’m so grateful to be the one who stumbled upon the task of making this film. Two decades ago, I made a simple observation reading “Tinkerbelle” by Robert Manry (Harper & Row, 1966). It’s a great adventure yarn with a message about never surrendering your dreams and an inspiring roadmap of how to make your dreams come true.

The appendix noted that Manry carried a 16mm movie camera on his voyage across the Atlantic. I wondered, “Where is the film?” That began a years-long archival journey. Although Manry died in 1971, I eventually unearthed all of his surviving films, home movies, photographs, correspondence, and thousands of newspaper clippings, buried in the back of his brother’s garage in Calgary, Alberta. I’ve since interviewed all of his surviving family and other key people involved in the story, many of whom are now deceased.

It was summer, 1965, twilight of the analog age – color TV had just arrived, slide rules still ruled mathematics, copper-bound telephones had dials, and sailors still found their way by compass, sun and stars. Manry was a happy, middle-aged suburban family man who worked at the Cleveland Plain Dealer. His newspaper colleagues were shocked to learn that he had secretly set sail from Cape Cod, heading across 3,200 miles of open ocean to England – in his 13½-foot sloop, Tinkerbelle.

The film weaves several narrative strands into a vibrant story expressed as a song of the sea. The voyage is both adventure and metaphor – a searching portrait of a complex man, masked by his modesty and sense of humor. It’s both a love story and a treatise on self-defining one’s destiny – regardless of culture, class and finances – and achievement through simplicity, ingenuity and tenacity. Plus, it comes with a dramatic twist of intrigue when the Plain Dealer’s crosstown rival hatches an outlandish plot to track down Manry at sea and beat the PD to its own story. The race is on! Filled with high seas exploits, the film also explores loss and tragedy, makes a provocative call to action, and reflects on the nature of dreams, and how their fulfillment is always quite different than anyone could have imagined.

Steve Wystrach, Director & Producer

Los Angeles, California, 2018