Le Ponant Hostages Released

The 30 crewmembers of Le Ponant were released Friday, after seven days in captivity.

© French Ministry of Defense

The 30 crewmembers of the 288-ft French luxury yacht Le Ponant, taken hostage on April 4 by Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden, were released Friday after the yacht’s owners paid a $2 million ransom. The French government reports that the hostages were treated well and none were injured during their week-long ordeal.

Several of the estimated 12 pirates tried to make a getaway on land but French commandos in a Gazelle helo swooped down, "disabling" their vehicle with gunfire. Six pirates were arrested. While Somali government officials claim at least three people were killed by gunfire with several more injured, the French government claims no pirates were killed.

The incident has spurred French diplomats into proposing a plan to the UN that will step up international patrols in piracy hotspots such as the Gulf of Aden and the Straits of Malacca.

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"We read the April 9 ‘Lectronic item about Besame, the Southern California-based mini-megayacht that was approached by a panga full of armed and masked men off the coast of mainland Mexico recently," write Guy and Deborah Bunting, former residents of Vista who have been cruising their M&M 46 catamaran Elan in Mexico and Central America for years now.
Birthday boy – Olin Stephens turned 100 this past weekend. © 2008 Webb Logg We would like to join the rest of the sailing world in wishing happy birthday to Olin Stephens, who turned 100 yesterday (April 13).