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Tar Baby II Dismasted Near Niue

Louis and Alicia van Praag being ferried from their beloved Tar Baby II by the crew of a nearby fishing vessel. No injuries were reported in the dismasting.

© RNZAF

In a January ‘Lectronic, we wrote about the heartwarming tale of Louis and Alicia van Praag. The Praags had met a year earlier while Alicia, 27, was on a working vacation in Australia. Louis, 36, took her for a sail on Sydney Harbor, which clearly won her heart because within a year, they’d bought their Westsail 32, Tar Baby II, in California to take them across the Pacific and on to Louis’s homeland.

Other than a tragically horizontal stump of a mast, Tar Baby looks surprisingly tidy. We hope to get the full story soon.

© RNZAF

On Wednesday, we received word from Louis’s mother Wendy that the couple had set off their EPIRB near Niue. "They’d left Tahiti some time ago and were on their way to Niue after visiting the Cook Islands and Palmerston Atoll," she wrote. There are no details on what happened to the van Praags, but a Royal New Zealand Air Force plane found Tar Baby dismasted but otherwise in good shape.

Tar Baby’s approximate location. Why the rescue vessel couldn’t drop the van Praag’s off at Niue on their way to Pago Pago is a mystery.

© Google Earth

Yesterday, Wendy reported that the crew of the Taiwanese longline fishing vessel Tunago were able to pull the van Praag’s from Tar Baby, leaving her buttoned up and afloat. "The New Zealand rescue staff could not persuade the captain to take them to Niue, just 75 miles away," Wendy reports, "so their next port of call will be Pago Pago, Samoa. We’re hoping someone near Niue might be able to tow Tar Baby to port so Louis and Alicia can reclaim her. Otherwise, it looks like goodbye Tar Baby."

Tar Baby II in happier days.

© Louis van Praag

If you have any contacts in Niue who might be willing to help, email LaDonna.

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