If you want to mark your charts, to avoid the derelict, ghost boat, the SV Sea Nymph, don’t expect the U.S. Coast Guard or the Volvo Ocean Race to warn you. They are keeping its location a secret. Volvo Ocean Racers discovered the boat on February 13, 2018, UTC, “360 miles east of Guam,” according to a blog written by Turn the Tide on Plastics skipper Dee Caffari. When and where is the exact time, latitude, and longitude of the citing? Nobody is willing to give that out, but Jennifer Appel in her vague, Ghost Boat position report seems to be calling Ms. Caffari a liar.
The Volvo Ocean Race content coordinator Alice Williams wrote, “We are not at liberty to disclose, the information you requested please be assured that RCC [U.S. Coast Guard Rescue Coordination Center] Guam have been informed of its position.” U.S. Coast Guard Guam falls under the 14th district Honolulu. A representative at the 14th district said over the phone that the exact location was given to the owner, Jennifer Appel, but they would not disclose it to the general public.
Appel refused to give out the exact location of her boat except to say it was at 17N and 147E on February 13, 2017. That is little improvement since depending on the rounding convention Ms. Appel is using that could be an area of more than 3,400 nautical miles of open water on a boat barely visible on radar, according to the skipper of the USS Ashland which rescued her on October 25, 2017. Moreover, it is not inconceivable that she could be telling a fib about this location which is definitely not “360 miles east of Guam.” Northeast is a better direction. Ms. Appel has been caught in a few tall tales mentioned in the video above.
Is 17N and 147E another Jennifer Appel “fish story”?
Map caption: This is 17N and 147E, which is definitely not “360 miles east of Guam.” Whose coordinates do you believe? Jennifer Appel, a woman who has wrecked one boat and abandoned the other, or Dee Caffari, a 5-time circumnavigator and world record breaking sailor leading Turn the Tide on Plastics in the Volvo Ocean Race.
Ms. Appel hopes that someone will want to risk their life and property to go after a boat full of water and a broken boom only to face Ms. Appel’s charges of stealing her home and possessions. She wrote to Slow Boat Sailing, “The items inside the boat are mine.” Before the boom broke, Ms. Appel told the USCG that the boat averaged about 1 knot downwind to the USCG from June to October 2017. She said that she has no plans to fly to Guam or charter a boat herself. Ms. Appel told Slow Boat Sailing that she lives in Texas with her dogs Zues and Valentine, but Tasha Fuiava, her crew member for their 5-months at sea, has moved on to California where the latter has family.
In yet another sad incident of lashing out against those who helped her, Ms. Appel posted on a Sailing Anarchy forum:
“TTT on Plastic says clearly – in the video – that they know who the owner is – yet they did not contact me –
I called USCG Guam to find Sea Nymph’s current location and thank the woman who initiated the rescue after she learned that the ‘collision’ which the fishing vessel called in had not yet happened and Guam hung up on me and blocked my number.”
There she goes again! Jennifer Appel is once again lashing out at several folks helping her. It sounds newest enemies are the Turn the Tide on Plastics crew, who found her boat, and the USCG, who repeatedly tried to rescue her despite her refusal to use her EPIRB. She says in the USCG survivor debrief on my video that the Taiwanese fishing vessel crew tried to “kill” her, and she criticizes the USCG C-130 pilot who flew out on May 5, 2018, after she did a “mayday” call two days out of port. How much fuel did taxpayers pay for after that first mayday in which she told the USCG she was “OK” when they flew over with a C-130? If you add that to the USS Ashland motoring out to her rescue, that seems like a lot of military hardware, supporting the cruise of the SV Sea Nymph. What does it cost to charter a Volvo 65 and crew for a couple hours to fly a drone? What does it cost to charter a 56-meter (500 gross ton) fishing vessel and crew for 24-hours? Mariners are obligated to help people in distress, but the person in distress probably should say “thank you” and refrain from criticizing their saviors publicly without some very good reasons. At the time of writing Turn the Tide on Plastics has not requested redress in leg 6 for their good Samaritan efforts to examine the ghost boat.
The USCG seems to be burned out on wasting fuel on the strange voyage of the SV Sea Nymph. The USCG 14th district representative told Slow Boat Sailing that they had no intention of intercepting the vessel in international waters. The USCG directed the owner, Jennifer Appel, to contact an international salvage company. Ms. Appel added more color to the USCG Guam incident where they blocked her number. The author spoke to her over the phone, and she said that USCG Guam believed that she would need further rescuing if she recovered the boat.
With its broken boom, open hatch, and forward tilt, the Sea Nymph might have a market value of zero. If it hits a reef, the locals will likely send its owner a clean up bill of many thousands of dollars like the crew of the Tanda Malaika and the Lagniappe faced. It is too bad Ms. Appel did not scuttle the boat when she had the chance. When Appel wrecked her first boat, the salvage company had to wait years before she paid a dime. After getting pennies on the dollar for the cleanup, Ms. Appel accused the partially-stiffed, salvage company for her first boat of not towing it to safety when it broke up on the rocks on the Sailing Anarchy Podcast episode 26. Slow Boat Sailing’s advice to any salvage boat “hired” by Ms. Appel would be to ask for a cash deposit for all expected expenses upfront.
In her conference call with reporters in the video, below she entertained thoughts of recovering it. In which case, taking off the sails, putting on sail covers, and better securing the hatch, all might have been good ideas.
The last notice to mariners on February 14, 2018, had no mention of the derelict Sea Nymph. Perhaps its coordinates will show up on the February 21, 2018, edition. If you are passing that way before that time, post a crew member at the bow. The SV Sea Nymph has no lights on. Can we blame the Ms. Appel or the USCG for not notifying boaters of the location of this hazard to navigation?
If you have the chance to scuttle or salvage the ghost boat, SV Sea Nymph. Take off the cockpit GPS. I would like to have a look at the track on the GPX file.
Dr. Linus Wilson, Captain, OUPV-Near Coastal, is the author of How to Sail Around the World Part-Time and the creator of the Slow Boat Sailing Podcastand YouTube Channel. He sails an Island Packet 31, which is currently in Tahiti.