GHASTLY REMAINS: Mummified Solo Sailor Discovered Adrift Off Philippines

Mummy remains

This is an incredibly grim photograph, but it belies an end-of-life scenario more than a few cruising sailors might actually welcome. These are believed to be the mortal remains of a German cruiser, Manfred Bajorat, age 59, whose boat, a Jeanneau Sun Magic 44 named Sayo, was found about 40 miles off the Philippine coastal town of Barobo by two fishermen over the weekend. The current best guess on a cause of death is a sudden heart attack, and so far no one has any clear idea when this might have happened. According to published reports, Bajorat was last heard from either one or seven years ago, take your pick.

Me, I’d guess one year is more likely. What I’m really wondering is why the body is so well preserved. Most published reports are citing “dry ocean winds,” but in my experience there really is no such thing. Life on a boat at sea is always moist in some respect, and I would have thought that a dead body in a moist tropical environment would decompose very quickly. But then there’s a lot about corporal decomposition I do not understand. Maybe the condition of the corpse has something to do with a lack of microorganisms in the environment.

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BUILDING MOORINGS: Yachtie Appreciation Week Postscript

Cement guys

I have just moved into Phase Two of my OPB Caribbean cruising season, of which more later, but wanted to share this last glimpse of the scene back in Prince Rupert’s Bay on Dominica. This occurring yesterday, as PAYS folk and various yacht people gathered on shore outside PAYS HQ to construct new mooring blocks, to witness said construction, and to enjoy a big pot-luck lunch together. This all being preceded by the inevitable island-time delay, as we waited around twiddling our thumbs for the cement-mixer guys to show up with their equipment, which did finally happen (see image up top), whereupon everything got rolling both figuratively and literally.

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OPB CARIBBEAN CRUISING: Making the Scene With PAYS and Company in Dominica

Ranger out

Phase One of my OPB (Other People’s Boats) Caribbean cruising season this winter begins in St. Maarten, where I flew in to meet Hank Schmitt and my old friend, the Swan 48 Avocation, which I once delivered to St. Maarten many moons ago after Hank first started managing her. Faithful readers will recall that I ran out of fuel at the very end of that trip waiting for the bridge to open to enter the Simpson Bay lagoon. So I considered it auspicious this time when we not only didn’t run out of fuel exiting the lagoon (which would have been extremely alarming, considering we had just left a fuel dock), but also got to queue up behind the big J-boat Ranger going out through the bridge (see photo up top).

Our passage southeast to Dominica went very well, as the easterly tradewinds had just a whiff of a northerly slant to them, which allowed us to sail the whole course on port tack in just one board. This with only a bit of cheating with the motor--from St. Maarten up to St. Bart’s to dodge some squalls, and through the lee of Guadeloupe and its sister islands. We did lose our autopilot, but we had a large crew (myself, Hank, our mutual sailing buddy Johnathan Ishmael, and two of Hank’s OPO members, Janet Schuhl and Eva Gross) so hand-steering was not onerous.

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YACHTIE APPRECIATION WEEK: Good Times and New Moorings at Dominica

Prince Rupert's Bay

Attention all Caribbean cruisers! This is an event you’ll want to check out if you’re in the area. My old partner-in-crime Hank Schmitt and his organization, Offshore Passage Opportunities (OPO), have conspired with the Tourism Board of Dominica and with the Dominica Portsmouth Association of Yacht Security (PAYS) to launch the first annual Yachtie Appreciation Week (YAW) in Prince Rupert’s Bay (see photo up top) this February 14-21. During the event all visiting yachts will get free moorings and their “yachtie” crews will be eligible for discounts on island tours and will also get to enjoy some serious partying in the evenings.

My understanding is all you have to do to qualify is show up on a boat! Plus, if you’re wondering what to do afterwards, the St. Maarten Yacht Club is organizing a race/rally to feed boats from Dominica up to St. Maarten in time for the Heineken Regatta.

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VOYAGING WITH KIDS: The Ultimate Guide for Cruising Families

Kids cover

Lin Pardey gave me a hug and handed me a copy of this book when I saw her at Annapolis, and now I’ve finally gotten around to reading it. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Of course, I do have to admit I am biased. I know and have worked with several of the people involved in creating the book--two of the authors, the publisher, and the editor--but I wouldn’t be pimping it if it wasn’t good. All these people are some of the best in the business.

I can think of many magazine articles I’ve read (and edited) over the years on this subject--how to live the cruising dream with kids in tow--but offhand I can’t think of any books. And the big problem with all those articles is they are always written by just one person, so you get a necessarily narrow perspective on what is ultimately an extremely multi-faceted subject. After all, there about as many different ways to be a cruising family as there are families out there cruising. (I am remembering, for example, a family of four I once met in the Canaries who were having the time of their lives--on a boat just 18 feet long!) The very cool thing about this book it that it has three different authors, all of them highly experienced cruising parents, plus they have elicited opinions and information from many dozens of other cruisers, including a big bunch of cruising kids who have since grown into adulthood.

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LOST CHARTER CAT: Sunsail Versus Families of the Missing Crew Members

Cat plaque

This is getting increasingly intense. The overturned Leopard 44 catamaran that set out from South Africa on a routine delivery and was lost in the Indian Ocean over a year ago, then miraculously reappeared upside down off South Africa just last month, was taken in tow, and then lost again, still has not been rediscovered. Unfortunately. Meanwhile, Sunsail, the boat’s owner, and the families of the missing crew members have today released separate statements that are decidedly at odds. At this point I am not prepared to comment on this conflict. You can read the statements yourself and draw your own conclusions. The image up top is the photo referenced in the Sunsail statement.

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LONG WAY HOME: Charter Cat Lost on Delivery Returns to South Africa Upside Down One Year Later

Capsized cat

It was a little over a year ago, on December 14, 2014, that skipper Anthony Murray (58) and two crew members, Reginald Robertson (60) and Jaryd Payne (20), set out from Cape Town to deliver a new Leopard 44 catamaran into charter service in Phuket, Thailand. The un-named vessel, described variously in reports online as belonging to Sunsail or the Moorings, was last heard from via sat phone on January 18, 2015, at which time it was in some proximity to Cyclone Bansi in the Indian Ocean well west of Australia. Family members of the missing crew reported the vessel missing 10 days after it failed to arrive on schedule in Thailand in early February of last year and since then have worked tirelessly trying to figure out what happened to it. After multiple sightings of an overturned catamaran east of Mauritius and Reunion and now most recently off the South African coast, a tugboat now has what is very likely to be the missing cat in tow and is headed back to Cape Town.

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PETER JOHNSTONE: No Longer at the Helm at Gunboat

There were a lot of subterranean rumors flying around the show in Annapolis last October about big trouble at Gunboat, so I wasn’t too surprised when the company announced the following month that they were filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy (to reorganize rather than liquidate). Boatbuilding has always been a skin-of-the-teeth business and Gunboat had suffered a string of misfortunes, what with its messy legal dispute with its ex-build partner in China, the tragic abandonment of hull number one of the new Gunboat 55 series, and the dramatic capsizing while racing of the hot new foiling G4. I figured they’d cut a court-supervised deal with their creditors and get on with it. So I was a bit taken aback when I learned yesterday that the company will be sold at auction and that Peter Johnstone, its founder and sole owner, has stepped down as president.

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