Kiribati Tourism Confirms the Sea Nymph Hailed Christmas Island

Slow Boat Sailing has been able to confirm with Kiribati officials that the Sea Nymph did hail the Christmas Island Marine Guard in the third week of May 2017. Based on position reports that Ms. Appel supplied to the U.S. Coast Guard her boat traveled about 4 knots (nautical miles per hour) in the two weeks it took to reach Christmas Island, Kiribati. In position reports that cannot be verified, by Slow Boat Sailing, Ms. Appel said her boat traveled at about 2 knots for the rest of the month of May until June 26, 2017. From June 26 to October 1, 2017, the Sea Nymph averaged less than 1 knot, according to Ms. Appel. That latter period, averaging one knot, was one where her boat was moving downwind in the northeast trades to Wake Island. Her boat has a hull speed of 7.5 knots.


Photos: Christmas Island, Kiribati, Marine Guard logs of the VHF calls to the SV Sea Nymph, from May 18-19, 2017, which were obtained by Slow Boat Sailing.

Jennifer Appel says she spoke to the “calling station” on May 17, 2017. The Christmas Island Marine Guard said they spoke on May 18, 2017, and continued to hail the Sea Nymph with no response on May 19, 2017, because she gave them incomplete information on the May 18, 2017 conversation. The officials in Kiribati told Slow Boat Sailing that they even had records of the Sea Nymph’s call sign.

Ms. Appel’s said on the bonus episode to episode 42:

“We were at Christmas Island on the 16th, and we circled it on the 17th. That was when we were told that we were too, our draft was too deep to enter the lagoon. There was no protected anchorage available for rigging repairs. We cruised out of there on the morning of the 18th.”

“Who did you hail then?” I asked in that interview.

“Channel 16. They call it the ‘calling station.'” Ms. Appel said.

Later in the interview Ms. Appel said, “When the ‘calling station’ on channel one six says you may not enter.”

“‘You may not enter.’ So, you thought it was someone official telling you that you couldn’t enter?” I said.

“Yeah, he laughed at me when I told him that I needed 10 feet in order to safely navigate. He started laughing and said ‘We don’t have that. We don’t have that,'” she said.

“See I don’t see that on the charts though I see that if you drew 15-feet you could anchor there,” I said.

Ms. Appel has said her Morgan 45 designed Starratt and Jenks sailboat had a 8.5-foot draft when says that boat should have a 6.5-foot draft. Ms. Appel said she lacked an “island” chart for Christmas Island. See the video below:

Kiribati records counter Ms. Appel’s assertion of a chilly reception by a dismissive official on the VHF. Instead, Kiribati Marine Guard callers repeatedly tried to get more information about the vessel sailing near their safe harbor.

This is the third, and final, VHF conversation on her trip that Ms. Appel has said she made that Slow Boat Sailing has confirmed with third parties. On May 5, she spoke to a USCG plane after a Mayday call near the Hawaiian islands. She told the plane that she was OK. That call was confirmed in the October 27, 2017, survivor debrief that Slow Boat Sailing obtained with a Freedom of information act request. On October 1, 2017, (Honolulu time) or October 2, 2017, local Wake Island time, the US Air Force confirmed to Slow Boat Sailing that the Sea Nymph by VHF requested a tow at Wake Island (point 19), but the Sea Nymph could not be located. It is not clear why the Sea Nymph deviated from its course 750 miles south of Honolulu for Wake Island over 2,000 nautical miles to the west northwest.


Figure: (c) Linus Wilson, 2017, Slow Boat Sailing, reported positions by Ms. Appel to the US Coast Guard obtained through a FOIA request.

Ms. Appel has made several statements that have proved untrue. Ms. Appel has said in the past that she faced a force 11 storm leaving Honolulu, but weather data found no such winds or storm activity in that area. She said that she saw sharks bigger than were ever recorded in an area she called the “Devils Triangle”, which is a geographic region that does not exist. She claimed her boat was 50-feet long to journalists, but has since conceded on the Slow Boat Sailing Podcast episode 42 that it was a 45-foot long boat.  Some parts of the journey are in dispute. The USCG told the Associated Press that it hailed the Sea Nymph on June 15, 2017, which responded that it would be arriving in Tahiti the next day. In contrast, Ms. Appel told the USCG that point 14 on the figure (6S and 157W) was the closest her boat got to its planned destination of Tahiti. The USCG Honolulu has told Slow Boat Sailing that it has no plans to investigate the circumstances of the SV Sea Nymph rescue.

Do not copy or reproduce the figure without obtaining the express, written consent of Linus Wilson. To contact the author send an e-mail to linuswilson [at] yahoo <dot> com . Dr. Linus Wilson holds a six-pack captain’s license. He has sailed 10,000 nautical miles in his Island Packet 31 sailboat. In it he has visited the Bahamas and Cuba, transited the Panama Canal and crossed the Pacific to Tahiti. He has written three books including How to Sail Around the World Part-Time.

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