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Zingaro’s Bad Break Is Bad Break

Two days before Christmas, James Evenson and Kim Jensen were on final approach to Honolulu from the South Seas aboard their Spindrift 37 cat Zingaro when things went terribly wrong.

They were in washing-machine conditions about 40 miles southwest of the Big Island. The winds were blowing 30, the seas were 20 feet, and the wave trains were coming from three different directions. In three years and 25,000 miles of sailing together, they had never seen anything like it.

Zingaro was on starboard tack, with only a ‘postage stamp’ of jib out, dragging drogues, and still making 6-7 knots over the bottom. At 2:30 a.m., the boat was picked up by one wave and slammed down by another, followed by a wrenching motion and “a tearing sound like ripping cured fiberglass off a piece of plywood,” says James, a former Bay Area resident.

James Evenson surveys the damage to his Spindrift 37 catamaran Zingaro.
© 2020 Zingaro

Ironically, that’s exactly what happened, but on a horrific scale: The starboard hull had broken off! “The rear main beam was broken, and subsequently all of the bulkheads and stringers on the starboard side,” says James. “A lot of the hull-deck joint also failed.” All that was holding the hull to the rest of the boat was part of the deck.

The couple immediately sprang into action, getting the jib down and stopping the boat. Kimmi got the idea of lashing the errant hull to the intact part, and James jumped below for a coil of 3/8 Dyneema he had saved from re-rigging Zingaro the year before.

Kim Jensen does her own investigation of the damage done to Zinagaro.
© 2020 Zingaro

The only way to do the deed was for someone to get into the water. James had gone under the boat at sea before, even at night, to get a net off the prop or untangle a fishing line, but none of those nights came close to this one. As he worked to secure the line around the starboard strut and prop shaft, the stern was continually flying up and crashing down, threatening to alternately suck him under or crash down onto his head. Or both.

He managed to get the job done and get back aboard, only to have the strut fail and the shaft bend 20 minutes later — not only necessitating another swim, but rendering the starboard engine useless.

Buy the time the Coast Guard cutter Oliver Berry arrived from Honolulu later that night, Zingaro was as secure as she was going to get. The conditions had abated a bit, and James had motored closer to the lee of the island using the port engine.

Just in case you didn’t have a sense of just how bad the damage was, take a gander at what the power of the ocean can do.
© 2020 Zingaro

Right after it happened, James and Kimmi — who met in Mexico in 2017 — had considered abandoning the boat, but by the time the Coasties arrived, they had decided to try to nurse Zingaro the last few miles to landfall. With the cutter escorting, they putted along at three knots, finally making it to Honokohau Harbor on the Big Island on the morning of the 24th. “My hat is off to the Coast Guard, specifically the Honolulu OOD and crew of the cutter Oliver Berry,” says James. “If you are reading this, thank you, gentlemen — you saved us.”

At this writing, Zingaro is at a boatyard in Lahaina, Maui. The boat was not insured. James hopes to find a new owner with the drive and desire to fix her up just as he did when he acquired the boat in 2016 in Florida. Meanwhile, he and Kimmi are looking for a ‘Zingaro 2.0′, although they don’t know yet if it will be a mono or a cat. They are being helped already by donations from subscribers to their YouTube web series who are interested in helping with the next part of the Zingaro adventure.

Look for more on this incident in the March Changes In Latitudes. In the meantime, you can learn more at


  1. Rev Dr. Malama 4 years ago

    The conditions off the big island of Hawaii can certainly be severe, now all you naysayers need to eat crow for criticizing the Women of Sea Nymph who sustained damage to the rigging in adverse weather as claimed.
    It really blows my mind that these YouTube people are trying to sell this pile of garbage and followers give them money too!!!
    Fiberglass and plywood on the open ocean is a recipe for disaster…. as many home builders discovered in the trimaran heydays.

    • Mark Anderson 4 years ago

      I agree with your comment.

  2. Joseph DiMatteo, PE 4 years ago

    I am a bit confused. They are unwilling to make the repairs on their current boat but they are willing to sell it to some one else? All while looking for donations to buy their next boat? These folks strike me as the ocean going equivalent of the “begpackers” I am reading about who are cluttering up the streets in tourist sites around the world.

  3. David Hume 4 years ago

    “They went to sea in a sieve they did, in a sieve they went to sea” (the Jumblies by Edward Lear).
    I blame it on the GPS. With a GPS you can ‘boldly go’ over the horizon without any fear of loosing your way. Prior to GPS there were several years of ocean experience, use of a sextant, dead reckoning, chart plotting and the rest, to get you out of sight of land with confidence. These guys are in a thirty six year old catamaran designed by Lance Crowther but built by who?? Not in a factory or a ship yard, probably in a back yard. They go great downwind from Mexico to the South Pacific, not so well upwind back to the US. Looking at the photos tells it all, bulkheads torn away from the hull, decks detached from the frames. The boat was a day sailer, poorly built and old. They are lucky they survived, by the grace of the CoastGuard. Like it or not one day you will be confronted with very extreme conditions and you need a boat that can stand up to them and you need to be able to look after yourselves.
    I like Joseph’s expression above ‘ beg packers’ ( begging and backpacking) This new trend is ‘Beg sailors’ ‘Send us money and we will make videos of our fabulous lives’ Hard to believe people subscribe to these sea tramps.

    • Robert 4 years ago

      Y not there fun to watch

  4. Robert Cleveland 4 years ago

    I agree with all the past comments except it’s Lock Crowther
    And I sailed on one built of airex foam In worse conditions and the boat is still sailing
    The difference of course as was stated I knew how to really sail not motor no GPS etc etc
    Beg Sailors ?‍♂️?‍♂️?‍♂️?‍♂️

  5. RDE 4 years ago

    Congratulations to Kimmi & James on an amazing boat save. Not so much on their choice of boat! A friend once met a couple from Northern California while in the Marquesas. Their vessel? A hollowed out redwood log with a single outrigger. It is always better to be lucky than smart.

    Hopefully Kimmi and James have learned that old boats built of plywood and held together with polyester resin and glass belong in the dumpster rather than on the ocean.

  6. Kevin 4 years ago

    “You keep working and send me free money to fund my really cool lifestyle”

  7. Stefan 4 years ago

    I don’t get it people are willing to work and send money to these guys so they can enjoy their lives through them..getting paid by stranger’s.
    Yet there’s lots out sailing around getting money to enjoy their lives while the one’s sending money go to work..They even now have a tip jar..
    Beyond Belief..

    • Robert Minor 4 years ago

      Maybe it’s because I’m a little bit older and a bit handicapped and it’s something I really like watching those two are fun to watch

  8. Cleveland 4 years ago

    Lot of arm chair sailors here. I’m wondering how many of you have sailed from Florida to Fiji and back to Hawaii. They risked their lives to save their home, and got it back in (mostly) one piece.
    These guys are real sailors and work their ass’s off making amazing videos. If you watch any TV at all then you don’t have a leg to stand on criticizing their work.
    People contribute to their Patreon because their content is unique and inspiring.
    Not everybody can afford to spend their whole lives working for the man to retire on a million dollar lagoon and sit in a marina. They went out there and did the damn thing sailing half way around the world however they could.

    If anyone want to contribute to their amazing videos, their kickstarter to help fund their next season and a down payment on their new boat is going really well. Showing all you haters, that despite your doubts people do care and want to see them succeed.

    • AzJohn 4 years ago

      Well said Cleveland. I’m guessing they never sat down and watched their videos. I get way more entertainment from YouTube sailing videos then from any cable network. And I have to pay for that. Atleast this way I can pick and choose who gets my $$. As for going to work and paying these guys? They are inspiration for me to get out and live my life. And a few bucks here and there to support an unscripted take on life is way better than these so called “reality” shows they feed us.

    • Kirk 4 years ago

      I’m sorry – there is nothing unique about sailing a vessel that isn’t seaworthy-video shoot it and claim the 8h you spend rendering requires you to get paid by other people- This is E begging plain n simple. In the more civilized times – when i was a teen (20 years ago)and sailed the world -we actually worked the places we were at – my resume boosts countless hours of waiting tables, fixing up hotel rooms, sail making and other grunt jobs..This was part of the experience – like racing with the local boats to get on good terms with them. Don’t get me wrong i like youtube channels -but this one – i find it generic and can find 5 similar channels with a youtube search – sailing uma for 1 comes to mind as another how not to DIY your boat.
      so my suggestion is you check out alluring arctic -a finnish guy sailing to svalbard, breaks out his skies after shoveling snow of his generic plastic tub of a boat.
      Also my apologies for not being a native English speaker.

  9. Ashley Robert Nield 4 years ago

    Very harsh comments from some contributors. Surely in a free(ish) society, if some people want to advertise for help to make their adventure dreams come true and others wish to sponsor them (and enjoy the ensuing videos) then that’s fair enough. It’s their business. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to watch or scorn their endeavours. Part of the charm of the YouTube’s sailing bloggers is that they’re not experts and their boats are often amongst the cheapest available. Who wants to watch millionaires sail gin palaces using professional crew? There’s enough negativity and jealousy in the world. I travelled when I was young and I’m now keener on enjoying some adventures from the comfort of my sofa. So please, don’t rain on my parade!

  10. Erik Karl 3 years ago

    I do enjoy the videos and reports. Why not support James for something that you like?

  11. Mark Johns 2 years ago

    Negative people who have sailed the world and got it right everytime.
    Awesome channel of adventure and living the dream and James works super hard projucing these entertaining videos.

  12. Retired AF Master Sergeant 2 years ago

    True. Lots of haters here. I particularly am not interested in watching millionaires sail with a professional crew. Totally not interested in sending ANY you tuber my hard earned cash but I do enjoy killing spare time watching sailing content. If they get a cut from a single view then so be it. To call sail bloggers beggers and accuse them of not working? Not fair at all–lighten up people. Just about off of them bust their butts working their rigs and making money in other ways. What is the harm in pitching a product or sponsor? Shit that’s been the core of broadcasting culture since the invention of radio. If B&G electronics offered David Hume $5,000 to pitch some nav equipment on You Tube, he’d frickin take it and make a commercial. I have never sailed a day in my life and watching a number of these videos from Atticus, Zatura and a few from Zingaro….I’m curious now. I would love to take a sail charter to some islands and I may just do it……….so there you go. They are promoting an industry. Nothing wrong with that.

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