THOMAS TANGVALD: Declared Lost At Sea


I really really hope this turns out not to be true. You’ll recall I published a rather long post last spring about Thomas Tangvald, son of the famous traditional-boat cruiser Peter Tangvald. Thomas, who lost his dad and half-sister Carmen on reef off Bonaire when he was just 15, had started publishing a series of articles in All At Sea about a voyage with his own son and pregnant wife from the Caribbean to Brazil aboard a traditional Puerto Rican nativo sloop, Oasis, that he had refit and reconfigured for ocean sailing.

Unfortunately, I recently received word from Jacques Mertens, Thomas’s step-grandfather (it’s a complicated family, read the earlier post to figure it out) that Thomas was reported missing at sea two months ago and now has been officially reported lost at sea by the Brazilian coast guard. Thomas had been sailing singlehanded from French Guyana to Brazil aboard Oasis, having set out in late January. He had been working in Cayenne, French Guyana, designing fishing boats for a local company there.

According to Jacques, the French Garde Cotes have not given up and are still searching for Thomas. “Normally I would consider him lost, but Thomas is a very special person,” Jacques wrote me in an e-mail. “I still have some hope that Thomas is on anchor somewhere drinking cocktails and will reappear to surprise everybody.”

I sure hope so, too, but at this point in the game it seems increasingly unlikely.

I was just thinking of him, too, as I only recently discovered he had started publishing a blog of his own, called Tangvald: Sailing Adventures and Boat Design. It’s a very interesting mix of personal history, background on Oasis and nativo sloops, traditional sailing craft generally, and some quite technical discussions of boat design.

He also posted this video of him and his family sailing aboard Oasis before he refit her. He in fact was (is?) a highly intelligent and very independent young man. Truly one of a kind.

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7 Responses
  1. alberto chagas

    is terrible but the reality is the north of brasil is very dangerouse zone to sailing ,is one zono of no atention not coast guard ,and have piracys from guianas ,the winds is very strong and waves too have moviment in banks of sand ,the losted live is bad ,luto for that fatal incident

  2. I am very distressed to hear this news. I knew Peter and met Thomas as a young lad and of course we ran a series of his articles in All At Sea. You are right not to give up hope, Thomas is an amazing seaman, hared as nails and born to the sea.
    I would appreciate you keeping me up to date on developments and hope with all my heart that Thomas is safe.

  3. Arthur

    I just read your post and I’m very sad! I’m a friend of Thomas! I met him on the Cayenne marina in French Guyana!
    Plaese contact me if you manage to have news! He didn’t answer to my mail since end of february!
    Last time I met him, it was mid-february and I told me that he plan to move in the the next month!

  4. Esteban

    It its very probably he could sail by river into the Amazon forest, thats the way Thomas would think even if its not possible for some he will try to make it possible! May be he isnt lost yet… Thank you so much for sharing it …

  5. Christoph Lusse

    My name is Christoph Lusse and just heard of this tragic event which i hope turns out not to be true. My mother was involved in helping Thomas get of the island, Bonaire, and up until January i’ve been in contact with Thomas. He did not reply to my last email and i thought he was either busy or sailing with no internet. I have the name plate to his Fathers boat and have been keeping it for him to eventually mail it to him when he got to Brazil. Please keep me posted.

  6. Frank Justicia/Marine Technolo

    Thomas was at a time in Culebra, Fajardo and St John one oif my employees. We did mainly marine engines’ srvice and repairs. He definitely was , although some sort of a rebel, a very talented young man. Hope he’ll re surface.

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