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Cruisers Hopeful About Landers’ Survival

For this year’s Pacific Puddle Jump fleet, the elation from having arrived safely in French Polynesia was dampened when one of their own went missing. As reported earlier, singlehander Billy Landers’ Islander 36 Emily Pearl was found May 4 sunk in near-shore waters along the coast of Nuku Hiva, one of the principal islands of the Marquesas.

French authorities, in conjunction with the U.S. Coast Guard and local residents, conducted an exhaustive search for Landers on land and sea, both above and below the surface, but no conclusive clues as to his whereabouts were discovered. The fate of his unsinkable plastic dinghy is still a mystery, and some, including Landers’ good friend Erik Dix, still hold out hope that the missing sailor may be adrift within the eight-foot, canopied craft, and will find his way to a landfall downwind. According to Dix, "Seven months ago a local fisherman survived drifting from here to Tonga and wrote a book about it." An ex-Army officer, the 64-year-old Landers was aware of the risks of singlehanding and was reportedly well prepared for emergencies. Regardless of the outcome, Dix takes some comfort in knowing that, "Bill was doing something he enjoyed in an incredible part of the world."


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