She has risen again to infest the newsfeed of unsuspecting sailors! The good vessel Sea Nymph–belonging to controversial bluewater sailor Jennifer Appel, abandoned by her and shipmate Tasha Fuiava and their two dogs last October–was sighted yesterday approximately 360 miles east of Guam by skipper Dee Caffari and her crew aboard Turn the Tide on Plastic, a VO65 racing in Leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race.
Caffari in her text report couldn’t help remarking on the irony of the situation: “I just hope now we have given authorities her position there is a chance for salvage or for scuttling her to prevent a far worse disaster in our oceans. We are asking you not to litter the oceans with plastic and here we have a whole yacht floating aimlessly in our oceans!”
Not only a yacht, but a plastic one at that.
Before all you haters out there start heaping more abuse on poor Jennifer Appel, let me first point out that if you look at the screen grab up top, taken from the drone video below, you’ll see that Sea Nymph is way down on her lines and is obviously taking on water and I’m guessing won’t be on the surface too much longer.
Second point: it wasn’t Jennifer Appel who controlled the circumstances of Sea Nymph’s abandonment, but the U.S. Navy. I know of no situation where crew abandoning a yacht at sea were ever ordered by U.S. authorities to scuttle their vessel before leaving it. I know in my own case we were not ordered by the U.S. Coast Guard to scuttle Be Good Too. I also know of no instance in which a vessel underway has struck an abandoned yacht at sea, though it is obviously possible.
Third point: if Dee Caffari truly was that worried about Sea Nymph posing a threat, maybe she should have stopped and scuttled the boat herself.
I do know that Vestas, a VO65, struck a manned fishing vessel while sailing at high speed into Hong Kong at night on the last leg of this race, killing one crew member on said fishing vessel. So I do hope at least the VOR PR machine will maintain some perspective here.
To my mind the most interesting feature of this story is how being able to launch a drone to investigate the derelict they found saved Caffari’s crew from having to interrupt their race. They had another competitor, Brunel, in sight at the time, so I’m sure were not eager to stop sailing. Instead they sent the drone feed into race HQ, confirmed Sea Nymph’s identity and the fact that she had no souls aboard, and thus were able to continue their happy duel with Brunel.
IN OTHER NEWS: You may have noticed the other popular sailboat disaster of the moment. Tanner Broadwell and Nikki Walsh, two young wanna-be cruisers, lost their Columbia 28 trying to enter John’s Pass in Florida last Wednesday night. It’s a tricky place apparently. They hit a shoal at low speed, and their keel fell off. The boat turtled and sank with all their possessions.
I can’t help noting that certain persons who were fiercely critical of Appel and Fuiava when they suffered their mishap have nothing but sympathy for these two. (As do I.) Maybe my tedious lectures about giving the benefit of the doubt to sailors in trouble are having some effect.
I also noticed that author/yacht-broker Melanie Neale, who once lived on a Columbia 28 in her wanton younger days and wrote a column about it for Cruising World, briefly opined on Facebook that this might have been her boat. It turned out it wasn’t, but she also noted she had to do a major keel job to keep hers from falling off.
Buyers of Columbia 28s be warned.