Category: News & Views
Created: Thursday, 10 February 2011 23:09
Written by Charles Doane
Many moons ago, while toiling in the salt mines at Cruising World as an associate editor, I procured and edited for the magazine an amazing story about a man named Hans Klaar. Written by James Baldwin (you can read the original manuscript on his website here), the story told of Klaar's unusual childhood aboard a Thai cargo junk. It was like something out of The Swiss Family Robinson… on steroids.
It told also of Klaar's adult life. Of how he'd purchased a 51-foot Wharram Tehini catamaran, sold off its aluminum spars, and re-rigged it with Polynesian crab-claw sails. Of how he had wandered the Indian Ocean making a living as an itinerant cruising trader. Of how he hoped someday to build his own 75-foot Polynesian voyaging cat and explore the Pacific.
Just two years ago, when I met James Wharram and Hanneke Boon for the first time in Mystic, Connecticut, I had merely to mention Hans Klaar in passing… and the three of us fell into something like a collective swoon.
So you can imagine my surprise, and dismay, when I learned this week that soon after the story I prepared appeared in the July 1998 issue of Cruising World, Klaar was convicted of rape in South Africa and was sentenced to six years in prison. Ever since August 1999, when he lost his appeal, he has been on the run, sailing the world, and was finally taken into custody again in South Africa just last month.