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SOLO SAILOR OVERBOARD OFF PUERTO RICO: He Swims Ashore and Gets His Boat Back

Enthalpy ketch

This, thank God, is a solo MOB tale with a totally happy ending. David Thompson, a retired engineer, was swept off his 49-foot ketch Enthalpy II (see photo up top) by a wave while sailing solo down the north coast of Puerto Rico this past Sunday. He was attached to the boat with a lifejacket/harness, but a second wave stripped him out of his harness, and out of his pants, and he was left to drift half-naked as his boat sailed away from him. After seven hours in the water he managed to swim ashore at Isabela, about 15 miles west of Camuy where he went over the side, and is now recovering in a hospital. The Coast Guard, meanwhile, managed to recover Enthalpy II in the Mona Passage, some 80 miles west of Camuy, thanks to her AIS transponder.

David, without doubt, is a very lucky man. He gets to keep living, and he gets his boat back! His tale also vividly illustrates some points we discussed recently regarding the advantages and disadvantages of wearing a harness and tether while sailing.

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RAINMAKER RECOVERED: Is There an America's Cup Connection Or Not?

Rainmaker in Bermuda

As the old saying goes: what goes around comes around. So it is that Gunboat 55 Hull No. 1, Rainmaker, which was tragically abandoned by owner and crew in late January of last year 200 miles off Cape Hatteras, and has since been spotted and photographed adrift in the Atlantic, has at last got spotted and towed to terra firma. More specifically: Bermuda.

We have this via Facebook and Peter Johnstone (the sadly ex-CEO of Gunboat) and more intriguingly via Sailing Anarchy, who claim they’ve received a hot tip that the spotting was done by members of Oracle Team USA, who were idling offshore doing some recreational fishing off Bermie on a no-doubt treasured day off from work.

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MUMMIFIED SAILOR: More Facts = Bigger Mystery

Bajorat dad

OK, this is officially getting extremely weird. After conducting an autopsy on the mummified remains of Manfred Bajorat, the German singlehander found by fishermen this past weekend, Philippine authorities have announced that Bajorat died of an acute myocardial infarction (i.e., a heart attack) more or less seven days before his body was recovered. Meanwhile, the folks running the current round-the-world Clipper Race have also announced that the crew one of their boats, LMAX Exchange, found Bajorat adrift and dead aboard his boat back in late January about 600 miles east of the Philippines.

These baldly contradictory assertions raise some interesting questions.

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OPB CARIBBEAN CRUISING: Circumnavigating Martinique

Lifted cat

Phase Two my OPB (Other People’s Boats) cruising season (completed this past Saturday) began at the Dream Yacht Charter base in Le Marin on Martinique, where I encountered a few random nautical oddities, including this very interesting technique, employed by a rival charter outfit, for hauling out a catamaran without actually hauling it out. Is this freaking ingenious, or what?

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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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