Cruising Outpost Runs “Tracking the Strange Voyage of the SV Sea Nymph”


You can read the rest of the article online at issuu for a small fee which gives you the whole Spring 2018 issue. Alternatively, you can buy the print version at places like West Marine or Barnes & Nobel if you are not already a subscriber.

It seems that the editors at Cruising Outpost edited down the length around page 154. I was never given a proof or edited version of the article prior to publication. The Cruising Outpost editors wrote something I definitely would not have approved if had I got the chance. They wrote, “Such a slow speed seems only consistent to see if they had stopped anyplace before being rescued.” That phrase is a bit awkward and, giving the editors the benefit of the doubt, perhaps they meant that “the slow speeds make reasonable to ask if they stopped somewhere before being rescued.”

What I wrote was very different. This is what I submitted to Cruising Outpost in that part of the article:

Such a slow speed seems only consistent with a craft completely adrift. Nevertheless, Ms. Appel disputed that her boat was not adrift in her GoFundMe appeal from November 25, 2017, “We were not ‘adrift’. ‘Adrift’ denotes that we had no ability to steer, which fails to account for our ability to circle Christmas Island, leave the Dragon’s Triangle, almost return to Hawaii or navigate over 2,000 miles from our failed attempt to return to Hawaii to reach 7.4km Wake Island.”

            To the author, these slow reported speeds of less than one knot raise the possibility that the Sea Nymph stopped somewhere between May 18, 2017, and October 1, 2017, (Honolulu time). Those were two points that the author has confirmed in which the Sea Nymph hailed the Christmas Island and USAF respectively. The maximum hull speed of the Sea Nymph based on the 32.5-foot waterline length reported in for the Starrett and Jenks 45 is 7.6 knots. That indicates that the Sea Nymph could reach Wake Island from Tahiti, about 2,400 nautical miles, in less than two weeks. Thus, if the reports of the USCG hailing the Sea Nymph near Tahiti on June 15, 2017, are true, then the crew would have had plenty of time to anchor and go ashore several at different ports prior to reaching Wake Island on October 2, 2017, local time.

            The Sea Nymph‘s reported speed picked up to 1.7 knots between the confirmed locations of Wake Island and the crew’s eventual rescue 900 miles southeast of Japan, points 19 and 20.

            Jennifer Appel told the Slow Boat Sailing Podcast in the bonus interview to episode 42 that she had never looked at the GPS tracks on the Garmin GPSMAP 76cx which she had on board and salvaged from the abandoned boat. She told Matt Lauer on the Today Show, before Mr. Lauer was fired, that her tracks proved she wasn’t near Tahiti on June 15, 2017. Sailing Anarchy writer Alan Block said in his podcast episode 27 that he had Ms. Appel’s Garmin GPSMAP. He told listeners that could not find any tracks, at least initially, on the Garmin GPSMAP 76cx micro SD card.

              Here are some possible ways the mystery about the strange voyage of the Sea Nymph may be resolved. If the Sea Nymph is ever found, it may corroborate or dispute the account of Ms. Appel. Donald Crowhurst’s abandoned yacht contained logs that he had landed in Argentina secretly in the middle of the first solo, nonstop circumnavigation race, the Sunday Time’s Golden Globe Race, in 1968. A government body could use subpoena power to look at phone or credit card records that may corroborate or dispute Ms. Appel’s account of her voyage. The US Navy, in correspondence with the author, said that it did not even bother to check the ladies’ passports to see if they had stopped anyplace before being rescued.

The point that I made on above quote from the deleted part of my submission to Cruising Outpost, which I read on my podcast, and wrote in an earlier blog is that Ms. Appel is saying two things that oppose each other. At this point, there is no way, in my mind, to decide which one of the two possibilities is true:

  1. Ms. Appel gave up on sailing around June and mostly drifted downwind for months, or
  2. Ms. Appel and Ms. Fuiava stopped somewhere between May 3, 2017, and October 25, 2017, and are lying about not stopping anywhere.

I don’t think there is enough information to determine if 1 or 2 is true, but Ms. Appel says both 1 and 2 are false. I have repeatedly asked Ms. Appel to record an interview about the June to October segment of her trip, but she has declined those interview requests. Since the magazine is already on shelves, there is no way to correct that awkward phrase that I never wrote and do not agree with.

Oh well! Let’s just sail on.

by Linus Wilson

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