Karl and Betsy Livengood of Walnut Creek experienced every sailor’s nightmare when their beloved Catalina 36 JoJo ran up on a rock reef in Stillwater Cove on October 20. The couple report they’d been on their way south from Monterey, bound for a cruise of the Channel Islands with their friend Ray aboard Serendipity Too, when they pulled into Stillwater Cove. While attempting to anchor after an initial attempt was thwarted by kelp, JoJo‘s windlass jammed. The Livengoods say they cautiously approached an unidentified mooring in hopes of grabbing it for a few minutes while Karl cleared the windlass. As they neared it, they ran aground.
Karl reports that they were unsuccessful in backing off the reef, and though they were able to turn the boat into the waves, they could not get themselves free. "At that point, I called a mayday on the VHF," he said. "The Coast Guard responded, asking for our position several times after we’d already given them our GPS position and physical location. These repeated transmissions took up valuable time and distracted us from our primary mission of saving the boat and ourselves."
Karl, Ray and another friend from shore did what they could with dinghies to free JoJo but nothing worked. In the meantime, Betsy was still aboard, getting thrown around and sustaining minor injuries. "About an hour into this, the Coast Guard arrived and sat about 150 yards away in their 48-ft patrol boat, watching the drama for another hour, but not offering any assistance," said Karl. "They ordered Ray to launch his dinghy and rescue Betsy, which he did. The Coast Guard ordered me to row to their boat but, after two hours of paddling with one oar, I was too tired to comply. They finally moved toward me and I was taken aboard. Our boat continued to be swept toward shore by the now incoming tide, but was still intact with no water inside when Betsy abandoned her."
After pounding on the reef for hours, JoJo‘s keel broke off and the port side was stove in. Karl reports salvors worked through the night to pump out the diesel, while saving what valuables they could. She was later taken to Monterey Boat Works, courtesy of inflatable lift bags, where she was declared a total loss.
"I feel that the practice of good seamanship and the ‘Good Samaritan Rule’ were violated by the Coast Guard’s not helping me to secure JoJo," says Karl. "They arrived unprepared to help us, having no inflatable boat or wet suits so they could reach us near shore. If Betsy had broken her leg, what would they have done to help rescue her? Their statement that ‘We only save people, not boats,’ seems to ignore the environment and puts boaters at more risk, since some of us want to do what’s right for both the environment and our boats. Our image of the Coast Guard as the ultimate helper when serious problems arise has been shattered. Calling a marine tow service would probably produce better results."
The Iranian Revolutionary Guard has released five British sailors who were detained on November 25. Oliver Smith, Sam Usher, Luke Porter, Oliver Young and David Bloomer were taken into custody, and their Volvo 60, Sail Bahrain, impounded, while on a delivery to the start of the Dubai-Muscat Race. According to conflicting earlier reports, the crew believed they were either in waters of the United Arab Emirates, or that a problem with the boat’s saildrive allowed them to drift into Iranian waters. Either way, after threatening to try the five for espionage, the Iranian government released them. The New York Times reported that a state radio broadcast announced that the Revolutionary Guard had, "reached the conclusion that they entered Iranian waters by mistake."
The five-person crew of the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC) entry Pelican abandoned ship yesterday after a massive rig failure 325 miles west off the Cape Verde Islands. Though the details of the failure are unclear, it was reported that lines had fouled the prop, so the U.K.-based Bruce Roberts 532 was unable to motor. A merchant vessel came to the aid of the stranded sailors, who were taken aboard without incident, and Pelican was left to her own devices.
If you’re toying with the idea of escaping the cold this winter and sneaking off to do some sun worshipping south of the border, we’ve got a suggestion for you. Consider participating in the 9th annual Zihua Sail Fest.
Jointly organized by cruising sailors and expats in residence, the five-day event is slated for February 2-8. While the focus of daily shoreside and on-the-water activities is on light-hearted fun, the Fest’s secondary function is to raise funds to educate Zihuatanejo’s poorest children. Last year, the pooling of each day’s fund-raising efforts totaled 640,000 pesos (roughly $45,000), which included generous matching grants from the Bellack Foundation and California-based cruiser Pete Boyce. When combined with a Rotary International grant, in-kind donations from several Mexican agencies and countless hours of volunteer labor, 10 new classrooms were built, and over 600 kids benefited from Sail Fest-funded educational projects. All are administered by the non-profit Por Los Niños of Zihuatanejo organization.
With sailboat and dinghy races, a parade of sail, a dinner concert, a live auction, a street fair, a kids’ beach day and more, it’s a fun-filled week that’s well-worth attending — and with its fund-raising components, it is truly a win-win for sailors, expats and, best of all, for severely disadvantaged kids. Check the website for further details.