Mike Harker, who started sailing with the 2000 Ha-Ha, and later did mostly singlehanded passages from Florida to Europe, Europe to the South Pacific, the South Pacific to California, followed by an 11-month singlehanded circumnavigation, reports he was brutally beaten aboard his Hunter 49 Wanderlust 3 while anchored at St. Martin. The 62-year-old Harker’s sailing achievements are all the more remarkable because more than 20 years ago he was severely injured in a hang gliding accident, which left him bedridden for years and had doctors assure him he would never walk again. While he has no feeling below mid-thigh in either leg, he walks with only the slightest of limps. Friendly, self-reliant, unpretentious, and thrifty — he cruised the Med on $750 a month — Mike is a great friend of Latitude 38. We’re printing his report as we received it.
"Last week two big men swam out to my boat and came aboard WanderLust 3 at about 4 a.m. They pulled me (still sleeping) from the bed to the floor and stomped on my arms. The little man said, ‘I know you are rich, where is your money?’
"I replied, ‘My money is in the bank, but I will give you my credit cards."
"The little man said, ‘I want all your cash, where do you hide your cash?’
"I said, ‘I only have cash in my wallet, you can have all that’s in there.’
"The little man told the big black man to "Stick him!" so the big man put the tip of the harpoon to my forehead and pushed.
"I raised my right arm and grabbed the end of the spear and then with the left arm, I pulled the spear out of his hands and bent the spear end across my knee. The men kicked me and grabbed for my arms, but I was able to slug a good one to the little man and kicked the big man in the balls. They took their revenge by getting an arm across my neck and choked me while the big man kneeled on my arms and was told to, ‘Knock Him OUT!’
"They beat me, and choked all the air out of me, so I passed out. Just before I went out, I thought ‘Someone finally killed me after all.’
"When I awoke many minutes later, my feet were tied and my wrists were tied around my knees. I watched as the two men ransacked my cabin putting all valuables and electronics into a big black bag. I passed out again. I awoke after some minutes and heard my dingy engine start and drive away. I untied myself as best I could and crawled to the nav station, but they took all my VHF radios, cell phones, and even ripped the microphone out of the installed VHF and SSB. I crawled out to the cockpit and saw that they had forgotten to remove the VHF mic from that station, so I called a "Mayday" on channel 16 and blew the air horn five quick times with a pause, then 5 quick blows and a pause, 5 more quick blows. A neighboring boat owner was at my side within two minutes.
I then called the NET on channel 14 to be on the lookout for my special Walker Bay dingy with new 8 hp Yamaha. Within 20 minutes someone at a dock 3 miles away called the police that the dingy was drifting near hes dock. The police were at my boat and the emergency medical boat were all at my side with 15 minutes, even though it was 5:30 a.m. in the early morning. The police went to the dock to retrieve my dingy and looked at the video from the mounted security camera. I was taken to the hospital and had 12 stitches and glue on my face, a cracked cheek bone and a splinter around my right eye socket and a cracked rib. I am still in the hospital, but will be transferred to Guadeloupe for a special face surgeon to try to save my face. I do not have e-mail access because they stole all my computers, cell & SAT phones, cameras and everything not bolted to wood. I do not know when I can answer my e-mails again. I am now able to see again and my spirits are good because the doctors did a good job of repairing me and I am not dead yet."
We have an email in to Mike to get more details, such as what anchorage he was at, and what we can do to help. Until then, we’re sure he would appreciate expressions of support from anyone he might have inspired.
ED NOTE: This story originally ran stating that the incident occurred in Martinique. It actually happened in St. Martin, however. See our July 7 posting for an update.