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Experienced Cruisers Need Rescuing

Some of you may recall the strange tale of the Darla Jean, a 48-ft motorsailor that washed up on Fanning Island last December after spending 95 days "drifting" across the Pacific from Moss Landing. On board with owners Jerry and Darla Merrow were their two pets, Gulliver, a five-year-old Macaw parrot, and Snickers the dog.

Much like a pig at slaughter, every last piece of the wrecked Darla Jean was used by the locals.

© Roland Klein

After spending nearly two weeks on Fanning with literally just the clothes on their backs, Jerry and Darla hopped a ride on the interisland supply ship Nei Momi and made their way back to California. Unfortunately, the Nei Momi wouldn’t allow them to take their animals along so they remained in the care of some islanders.

Robby and Lorraine Coleman of the Honolulu-based Angelman ketch Southern Cross —  who’ve been on Fanning for several months — report that the local officials are being pressured by authorities on Christmas Island to either send the animals back to the U.S. or destroy them (it’s illegal to import animals). No one wants to see the animals killed so, after repeated attempts at contacting the Merrows failed, Robby and Lorraine contacted us for help.

Through Darla’s family we learned that the Merrows will not be making it back to Fanning anytime soon — according to Darla’s son, Steve Cliche, they’ve been busy making appearances on talk shows like The Montel Williams Show — and they hope someone might be willing to save their beloved pets from a death sentence. Both animals are seasoned sailors — Snickers came onboard as a puppy right before they left Moss Landing — and are well socialized.

Gulliver the parrot and Snickers the dog will be slaughtered, if someone doesn’t come to their rescue.

© 2008 Robby Coleman

"Benaia, the local policeman, said he’d release the animals to someone else if arrangements could be made to get them off Fanning," the Colemans said. "They’re doing well, but this is a tough place — survival of the fittest." Though Robby and Lorraine don’t have room for pets aboard Southern Cross, they are more than willing to help coordinate a rescue, whether by air or sea. "The supply ship Kwai will be coming around here in mid-April," they report. "We could put the animals onboard when it heads back to Christmas Island, where they’d have to be claimed."

If you think you can help Gulliver and Snickers, email us and we’ll put you in touch with Robby and Lorraine.

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