Posts Tagged ‘missing cruisers’

Here’s the latest courtesy of ‘Lectronic Latitude (Latitude 38):

Hurricane Odile Damage Updates

September 17, 2014 – Cabo, La Paz, Puerto Escondido & San Carlos


This boat was one of several boats that were beached in San Carlos by Odile. Nearly two dozen boats sank or went ashore at La Paz. © 2014 Jim Cochran

The biggest — and worst — news is that there apparently is no new info on the status of three sailors that are reportedly missing from boats in the La Paz anchorage: The young Mexican man named Gabriel on a steel boat is reported fine. But Holly Scott of Charlie’s Charts reports that the Mexican Navy dove on the sailboat Princess, owned by a man named Gunther, and didn’t find any sign of him or his dog. Paul and Simone of Tabasco II have not been found either.

The following is a collection of information we’ve come across about the hurricane damage in the last two days, including the first reports of damage to boats on the mainland side. It’s more jumbled than we’d like, but it’s the best we can do given the circumstances. We try to give credit in all cases, but sometimes info has been forwarded multiple times without the original source of the info being included. Yesterday we omitted giving Holly Scott credit for a chunk of our report. Our sincere apologies. Holly is a longtime good friend of Latitude and has been doing a great job of getting information out of Baja.

Cabo San Lucas — It’s our understanding that the Cabo Marina infrastructure and boats within it generally did better than the rest of the city, which suffered tremendous damage. Getting the airport back in full operation is going to be critical for two reasons: 1) getting critical supplies to the resident population, and 2) getting trapped tourists back home. That said, several news agencies reported this morning that military transports are currently flying hundreds of tourists out to gateways on the mainland. As expected, roads in Southern Baja, have been badly damaged and fuel is in very short supply. There has been looting at Costco and other stores, but these people are cut off from the world and are in desperate need of water and food. Particularly water, as it’s hot and dry in Cabo.

Most of Cabo is in very rough shape. But despite the small boat damage seen here, reports are that no yachts in the marina suffered significant damage. © 2014 The Vette Barn


The following are some details from Mark Drewelow of YachtAid Global, which arranges for megayachts to provide humanitarian aid for coastal communities around the world:

“At 1730 today (Monday) Cabo time I spoke with local Superyacht Agent Victor Barreda. He weathered Odile at home, and he and his wife and kids are okay. He says the  town has no electricity and it looks like every building has been damaged. If electricity doesn’t come back on, fresh water becomes a major issue quickly. Yacht Aid Global has one 75-meter superyacht that will be deeply involved in an immediate relief effort, focusing on producing 4,000 gallons a day of fresh water for locals.”

Drewelow spoke with the marina managers at Cabo and they reported that the boats in the marina and the marina itself came out “unscathed.” Mike at Driscoll Boat Yard spoke with the owner of a large motor yacht. He said there was some very minor damage to his boat, but all in all, the boats in the main part of the marina did remarkably well. Photos show that the small boats on the port side entering the harbor took a beating.

“Every yacht big or small that intends to head south to Cabo needs to bring aid,” Drewelow said. “Recovery will take months. YachtAid Global is coordinating some efforts with Marine Group Boat Works, which also has a facility in Cabo San Lucas. The Marine Group Boat Works yard in Chula Vista is collecting items that are of critical immediate need: drinking water, basic first-aid stuff, food with a long shelf life, temporary shelters, small line. If you want to help, contact Leah Yam, Cabo Relief, at Marine Group Boat Works in Chula Vista at (619) 427-6767. You can also donate funds via YachtAid Global’s donation page.”

La Paz — Again, the most urgent matter in La Paz, homeport for hundreds of cruisers, is that the three cruisers named above are still missing. Beyond that, boats in the various marinas apparently suffered very little if any damage, while some boats on stands at Atalanta Dry Storage, adjacent to Marina Palmira, suffered damage. Bob Davis of the Shell Beach-based Irwin 44 Nirvana called the Latitude offices this morning by satphone and reported that 22-25 boats had broken free in the cruiser anchorage in front of town. Five sank and the others were washed ashore on the Mogote peninsula or into the mangroves. We hope to have a complete list in our next posting. Davis reports that there was no real damage to boats in either of the La Paz boatyards. He says also that the Mexican navy has been conducting ongoing search and rescue (SAR) operations since shortly after the storm, and that the cruising community has pulled together in an impressive effort, in some cases refloating beached boats.

It’s been widely reported that Internet and phone service are still out in La Paz, so lots of family and friends back home are desperate for word that loved ones are fine. Authorities stated that electricity is available in only 17% of the city, but they are hopeful that it will be completely restored by next week. Davis was told that the fiber-optic cable that runs from Cabo all the way up the Baja Peninsula had been severed, leading to grim projections on the timetable for re-establishing phone and Internet service. But before our satphone conversation ended, his wife Sherry suddenly got a TelCel connection on her cell. We are now told that telephone and Internet connections seem to be working well including major land line connections. Davis witnessed “an armada” of electrical service trucks arriving recently from the mainland by ferry to address electrical issues in Cabo and La Paz.

Looking northwest from just outside the entrance to Cabo’s yacht harbor damage is strewn all along the shore. But being constructed with steel-reinforced concrete, we imagine that most structures are still standing, although damaged. The building in the far right of this image was under construction. © 2014 Whitney Roe


The La Paz Airport isn’t yet functional, and the TransPeninsula Highway may be destroyed in several areas. However, Davis has been able to confirm that the highway is fully functional from Puerto Escondido to Mulege. Vessels have been arriving from the mainland with aid for Southern Baja, and President Pena-Nieto is said to have toured the area by helicopter.

According to Bob Davis, consensus among La Paz cruisers is that Cabo is in much worse shape than La Paz, where some stores — including Walmart — are open, although all banks are closed. He has not seen any TV coverage, but the word-of-mouth info he has gathered about desperate people looting stores in Cabo for food and water is in sync with various network TV broadcasts.

In an earlier message relayed by Holly Scott, Davis wrote: “Susan Ross of the Portland-based Endeavor 43 Two Can Play suggested that the Baja Ha-Ha fleet could potentially provide an essential service by transporting ‘stuff’ [supplies, medicines, etc.] down to Southern Baja when the fleet comes south, and to the Turtle Bay and Mag Bay regions. Granted, early November is a ways off, but based on what I am hearing regarding Cabo, it may still be in ragged shape at that time.”

We’re certain that members of the Ha-Ha fleet would be happy to do all that they can. However, with the fleet’s arrival being almost two months away, we’ll have to see how things play out. People have to also remember that even one small ship could carry far more than the entire Ha-Ha fleet, but we’ll stand ready to help.

From Lewis Stewart Keizer: “The dry storage boat yard adjacent to Marina Palmira has a number of toppled, damaged, crushed or dismasted boats. All the other marinas had spotty but manageable damage (cleats ripped off docks, etc.) I know of no boats in marinas that sustained any appreciable damage, short of one boat in Marina de La Paz with a wooden mast that broke during the storm.

“Two Baja ferries unloaded a massive number of military and mostly CFE — the equivalent of PG&E — trucks, all of which is it rumored are headed to Cabo. Cabo is in really bad shape. The word down here is that Cabo airport will not reopen until the 21st. La Paz airport won’t reopen for a few days, but info is non-specific.

“Several of the 20 or so beached boats have been refloated this afternoon. A number of others are scattered hither and yon, and will be refloated as manpower, tow power and tides permit. A military flight is airlifting a number of stranded civilians out of La Paz to Mexico City today. Don’t know who they are.”

In a Tuesday-afternoon update from Nirvana via Holly Scott, Bob and Sherry made this offer: “Bercovich boatyard and boats on the hard had NO damage. I walked through there this morning and everything is intact. . . If anyone wants me to go down there and look at a specific boat, let me know and I will. Abaroa boatyard had some damage but again, I’ve not heard of any specific vessel damage in the yard. Same story, give me a vessel name and I’ll get the specifics. Atlantic boatyard nearby Marina Palmira took a real hit: a number of boats toppled over, some stacked on others, some crushed.”

Puerto Escondido — From Jake Howard aboard the Hunter 45 Jake in Puerto Escondido on Wednesday morning: “Here is the best list I can put together at this time. Firefly is here. They were right behind us in the storm and they are OK.


  • Manta – Terry and Dawn onboard OK – We will try to refloat today.  Damage to port side ama, but should be OK.
  • Cloud 9 – Unoccupied – moderate to serious damage – Possibly salvageable
  • Libertad – Unoccupied – moderate damage – should be salvageable
  • Rapscallion — Unoccupied – light to moderate damage – should be salvageable
  • Merilon – Unoccupied – moderate to serious damage – may be salvageable
  • Yankee Dreamer – Unoccupied – moderate damage – should be salvageable
  • Elusive – Bill on board and okay – sery serious damage – probably a loss
  • Cloud Nine – Bill on board and okay – sunk – probably a loss
  • Sea Toy – Unoccupied – sunk – probably a loss
  • Luna Sea II – Unoccupied – dismasted and moderate damage – probably salvageable
  • Small 27-ft sailboat underneath Luna Sea II – Sunk – probably a loss


  • Angel – Unoccupied – High and dry on beach – moderate damage?? – may be salvageable
  • 27-ft trimaran – (Don’t know name) – In mangroves – minor damage – should be salvageable
  • Red Something (not sure on second word in name)- Unoccupied – on the rocks at API – moderate to serious damage? – may be salvageable?
  • Estancia – Unoccupied – dismasted and sunk at big API pier – definitely a loss
  • Nikka – Unoccupied – dismasted but still floating – moderate damage but should be salvageable.

One other boat was dismasted but don’t know name.  Unoccupied. Should be Salvageable.

That’s it, I think.  FYI – Heard on Amigo Net this morning that Pantera and Bob are OK in Santa Rosalia. Lot of damage there. Old marina destroyed. All but one boat on that dock beached or sunk.  Town is awash in mud.”

San Carlos / Guaymas — John Skoriak reports: “As more photos are posted on San Carlos message boards, the damage from Odile becomes evident. It seems that three large sailboats — one trimaran and two monohulls — broke loose from their moorings. Apparently all the boats at the two marinas are fine, and the same is true at the Marina Seca Dry Storage area where I have a Catalina 36.

Now reduced to a pile of rubble on the San Carlos shore, this was once a large trimaran. © 2014 Vince Radish / Viva San Carlos Message Board


The boat in the first photo in today’s report, apparently taken by Jim Cochran of the San Carlos-based Bliss, broke free from her mooring and grounded on the beach at the end of the San Carlos Bahia anchorage, “which is actually one of the best and most protected natural deepwater anchorages in Mexico,” says Skoriak, “except, of course, in a hurricane from south.”

The following is the firsthand report, from Monday, by Jeff Hartjoy of the Baba 30 Sailors’ Run in the northern Sea of Cortez, who is preparing for a nonstop sail around the world via the Southern Ocean:

“I figured out where the hurricane was when the eye passed over at 1:30 p.m. It was calm windwise for 30 minutes, although I had 10-foot waves, and had to sit in the trough and roll like a baby in a box car. My ice-maker flipped upside down and the cushions were all falling all over the place, but I was happy as the wind had quieted. After 30 minutes, the wind came back with a vengeance and blew like stink. The good thing was it had shifted 90 degrees, putting me once again in the protection of the land. The wind was also beating the 10-foot waves down to where they were about four feet. If my anchors let go, it looked like I could escape. Previously, I would have had to dive over the side before the boat crashed ashore and swim for my life.

“The worst part of the first half was I was having gusts to 85 knots. They would last about 15 seconds, and heel the boat so far that the rail was in the water. A couple of times I was tending to things on deck, and the rain was like buckshot. It stung! I couldn’t see anything, as the wind was like smoke on green water. So far, the only thing that is damaged is the bimini, as the zipper started blowing apart. So I rolled it up. One of the solar panels was trying to blow off the boat, and I had to tie it down with a rope and black tape. I think this thing will be gone by 7:30 p.m. tonight, and the back half of a hurricane is usually lighter than the front half’.”


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With the tragic loss of life this past week in the Gulf of Aden and Somali Basin, the discussion has turned once again to the question of whether cruising sailors can depend on the U.S. Navy for protection in hopes of preventing another tragedy. Perhaps cruising sailors will unite in support of one another to urge the Military to be more pro-active.

Recapping the Story:

On Friday, February 18th, Jean Adam, a retired dentist, and Scott Adam, 68, a retired filmmaker from California, as well as crewmates Phyllis Mackay, from San Francisco, and Bob Riggle, 67, a retired veterinarian from Seattle, were seized by Somali pirates while sailing on the vessel The Quest. The Adams, Mackay and Riggle had been traveling with yachts participating in the Blue Water Rally since their departure from Phuket, Thailand, rally organizers said Sunday on the event’s website. The group, which organizes long-distance group cruises, said the Quest broke off on February 15 after leaving Mumbai, India, to continue on their circumnavigation alone.

The couple, along with their crew, were all found dead from gunshot wounds aboard the Quest by U.S. forces early Tuesday morning. (Read prior post).

The yacht was being shadowed by the military after pirates took the ship off the coast of Oman on Friday.


BWR at the new Kochi International Marina. From BWR.com

A statement from Blue Water Rallies on Tuesday called the four “brave adventurers. “We at Blue Water Rallies are stunned and devastated by the news of the loss of four friends who have had their innocent lives taken away from them by the pirate menace which is plaguing the Indian Ocean,” it said.

U.S. President Barack Obama was notified early Tuesday of the deaths, White House spokesman Jay Carney said. Obama had a briefing on the situation over the weekend and authorized the use of force against the pirates in the event of an imminent threat to the Americans’ safety, he said.

The United States “strongly condemns the murder of four U.S. citizens,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a statement, adding, “This deplorable act firmly underscores the need for continued international progress toward confronting the shared security challenge posed by piracy in the waters off the Horn of Africa.”

What can be done:


Somali Pirates being towed.UPI

One must look into the justification for sailors choosing to sail across the Indian Ocean to the Red Sea instead of other options.

Blue Water Rallies responded with this statement:

‘Although yachtsmen have been discouraged from sailing through this area for some time, it is a hard decision when the only other choices are to sail around the stormy, dangerous seas off South Africa, leave the yacht in the Far East, put it on an expensive cargo ship, or to sail back across the Pacific which presents more weather challenges and difficulties. When one has set one’s heart on a circumnavigation, these choices are very difficult to make.’

To load a yacht like the SY QUEST on a cargo ship and to bring it to the Mediterranean from the Maldives – whereby such cargo vessel then could be protected by the navies – would have costed the owner e.g. of SY QUEST exactly US$37,700  – an amount most yacht-owners simply can not afford, because the majority of them are not the rich. But that wrong picture is then believed by the readers of glossy magazines as well as Somali sea-bandits. The only other alternative for a safe transit would be to hire a private security escort – an undertaking, which could prove to be even more costly.”

Serious questions have come up and it hast been asked, if the navies do work in cohorts with business interests of the shipping industry or private security companies and just how much is the United States willing to do in order to protect it’s citizens who sail into these most troubled waters?

An article that recently appeared on the online news site International.to wrote:

“Currently many yachts are waiting for a safe opportunity to do the passage from the Indian Ocean into the Mediterranean Sea through the Gulf of Aden, termed now the “pirate alley”, because the navies have persistently refused to safeguard or escort these ships.

Rene Tiemessen, leader of one of the convoys consisting mostly of American and European yachts attempting to reach their home countries from Asia hopes the latest hijacking will cause ‘all politicians to wake up and see what has become of their doing nothing to protect us.’ After his words had been proven true, he told Sail-World.Com by satellite: ‘Although very very sad, this is what we have been warning about all the time.’ He added that ‘people felt abandoned’, since the yachting community, as opposed to merchant seamen, ‘have been neglected.’

Rene and Edith Tiemessen, sailing with their two-year-old child on Alondra, are leading a convoy of around 30 yachts from Thailand to Turkey. For months the Tiemessens have begged the UK Navy to give an escort for approximately 250 sailors travelling on about 100 yachts, while they sail the last part of the journey across the Indian Ocean to Salalah in Oman.  They were caught by the developing piracy situation while being on the other side of the Indian Ocean and their simple request to safeguard their voyage home has been consistently refused.


ECOTERRA Intl. and ECOP-marine fully support the rights of free sailors to cross the international oceans and to visit countries and peoples, who welcome them with natural hospitality. It is a shame for all Somalis that criminal gangs now prey on private sailors in non-Somali waters and it is a shame for the so-called international community to not be able to provide protection for convoys of these yachts twice or three times per year.

For further details and regional information see the Somali Marine and Coastal Monitor and the situation map of the PIRACY COASTS OF SOMALIA (2011). See the archive at www.australia.to and news on www.international.to

EMERGENCY HELPLINES: sms or call: +254-719-603-176 / +254-714-747-090

East Africa ILLEGAL FISHING AND WASTE DUMPING HOTLINE:  +254-714-747-090 (confidentiality guaranteed) – email:  office. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it [at]ecoterra.net. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

MEDIAL ASSISTANCE RADIO (MAR) network on 14,332.0 USB every day from 07h30 UTC to 08h00 UTC

ECOTERRA Intl. is an international nature protection and human rights organization, whose Africa offices in Somalia, Kenya and Tanzania also monitor the marine and maritime situation along the East African Indian Ocean coasts as well as the Gulf of Aden. ECOTERRA is working in Somalia since 1986 and does focus in its work against piracy mainly on coastal development, marine protection and pacification. ECOP-marine (www.ecop.info) is an ECOTERRA group committed to fight against all forms of crime on the waters. Both stand firm against illegal fishing as well as against marine overexploitation and pollution.” From http://international.to/.

In a post today to the one of the many world cruising groups online, a member made the following contribution:

“The NATO Shipping Centre has this latest advice for yachts:

‘The danger of piracy in the Gulf of Aden and Somali Basin is high and continues to increase. Naval forces strongly recommend that yachts do not transit this area. Merchant ships use Best Management Practices (BMP) to win time for the naval forces to assist them. With a low freeboard and slow speed, yachts are particularly vulnerable to pirate attack. Any direct response from naval assets will depend on the proximity to the incident and may not occur. ‘BMP3 and the self protection measures described in them were not designed for cruising yachts nor will they be sufficient to prevent boardings by Somali pirates. ‘

This statement was issued 2 Feb 2011. As one can see, the experts also do not believe that yachts are less likely to be targeted by these pirates. It is just chance on a big ocean. Run into the pirates and they will try to capture any vessel.”

Perhaps groups like the Seven Seas Cruising Association, (SSCA) whose members are comprised mostly of cruising sailors, will take up the task and begin using their strength in numbers to lobby the U.S. Government for more protection.

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It is with much sadness and grief that I pass on the grim news reported this morning by Fox News that all four sailors on board the cruising Yacht The Quest were killed by their captors.

Fox News confirms that U.S. forces responded to gunfire aboard the yacht Quest at approximately 1 a.m. Tuesday, but discovered all four hostages had been shot by their captors. Despite attempts to save their lives, all four hostages died of their wounds.

“We express our deepest condolences for the innocent lives callously lost aboard the Quest,” said Gen. James N. Mattis, U.S. Central Command Commander in a news release.

Two pirates died during the confrontation and 13 were captured and detained, along with two pirates already in custody. U.S. forces also found the remains of two other pirates already dead aboard the vessel and believe a total of 19 pirates were involved in the hijacking.

The yacht Quest was hijacked on Friday off the coast of Oman and U.S. forces had been closely monitoring the vessel.”

The bodies of the four Americans — including a yachting couple from California — have been taken on board the U.S. carrier Enterprise. Four U.S. Navy ships had been shadowing the couple’s yacht after it was taken over by the pirates last week off the coast of Oman. Pirates had said it was headed to Somalia.  While negotiations were underway to gain the release of the Americans, U.S. forces responded to gunfire aboard the Quest. The four Americans had been shot.

According to the U.S. military, the Enterprise is now off the Horn of Africa.

Read the entire report here:

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After hearing of the taking of The Quest with Jean & Scott Adam and two crew, fellow cruisers and SSCA Commodores Nancy & Burger Zapf (Halekai, currently in Phuket) wrote to say:

“We first met Jean and Scott in Suwarrow (Cook Islands) in 2005 and met up with them again in Fiji and Vanuatu 2 years ago. Thought you’d be interested to read the attached…They had been sailing with the Blue Water Rally.

Scott and Jean Adam joined the Oz-Med section of the Blue Water Rally just before Christmas and had been sailing with the Rally from Phuket as far as Mumbai. Quest had taken on two well-known rally participants: Phyllis Mackay and Bob Riggle. However, she chose to take an independent route from Mumbai to Salalah, leaving the Rally on 15 February. All information is now being handled by the US Central Command and their spokesman in Dubai.”


Bob Riggle from S/V Gaia

So now we have the identity of the two other crew members onboard The Quest.

According to an article in today’s LA Times, “U.S. Military officials said they are considering a response after reports that pirates off the coast of Somalia hijacked a yacht belonging to an Orange County, Calif., couple on a worldwide voyage distributing Bibles.

Rear Adm. Charles Gaouette, deputy commander of the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, told CNN on Saturday that the U.S. is prepared to intervene to rescue the couple if they are indeed aboard the boat.”

French Commandos have previously rescued the crews of two French vessels that were hijacked, by military intervention. In the second of these, the rescue of the yacht Tanit in April 2009, the skipper Florent Lemacon was killed by friendly fire, while his widow Chloe and small son Colin were rescued.


Phyllis MacKay of S/V Gaia

No military attempts to rescue yacht crews by this method have been made since. Later in 2009 British cruising sailors Rachel and Paul Chandler were captured and held in captivity for over a year before a ransom was paid and they were released. The British Navy watched the hijacking at sea, but held fire for fear of hitting the Chandlers.

Piracy has flourished off Somalia’s coast for two decades. Cruisers are having to make serious decisions about whether or not to voyage into pirate-infested waters.

Zapf wrote, “The Thailand to Turkey convoy (TTT) of 30 yachts was just disbanded in the Maldives last week due to piracy fears. Some of those yachts have left for Oman, others are returning to Thailand/Malaysia. Still others are shipping with Sevenstar to Marmaris in March.”
Our prayers go out to the Adams’ and their families during this horrendous time. Let’s pray that the U.S. Military will defend it’s citizens abroad better than the U.K. did for the Chandlers.

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S/V Quest. Photo courtesy of svquest.com

Jean and Scott Adam, cruising on the sailing vessel Quest, a Davidson 58 Pilot House Sloop, are an American couple from Southern California who have been sailing the globe for the past six years.  Their cruising website states that The Quest started an “around-the-world” trip in mid December of 2004 after sailing her to the States from New Zealand in 2002. They were on a “Bible Mission,” bring bibles to out-of-the-way places around the globe.


Cruisers Scott & Jean Adam. Photo from svquest.com

According to an article today on the New York Times Online, the couple’s yacht was “attacked on Friday several hundred miles off the coast of Oman, the American military said. There has been no radio contact with the Americans since they put out an S O S, officials said. It is a strikingly similar case to that of Paul and Rachel Chandler, sailors from a London suburb seeking adventure in similar waters in 2009. Their boat was hijacked by Somali gunmen, who held them for more than a year.”

UpDate: Saturday night…Both ABC and NBC included this story on their national nightly news broadcasts tonight, making this the most covered cruiser abduction yet. Let’s pray that all that coverage will lead to their safe return.

Also, according to Lifetime SSCA Commodore, Ginny Filiatrault, the Adams’ are SSCA members and Commodores.

We’ll stay tuned to bring you the latest as it becomes available.

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