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Charles Doane, a marine journalist I’ve worked with at both SAIL and Cruising World magazines, has just written a book called The Boy Who Fell to Shore. (ISBN: 978-1-957607-06-1) It is an excellent read—so excellent that I threw it across my cabin many times, unable to handle its unadulterated emotional truth. I give it five out of five stars. And, in many ways, this biography offers a double value—the sad demise of a doomed son and the utter selfishness of his cruel father. 

How cruel? How selfish?


For example, the father’s primary method of parenting was locking his two children in a home-made jail cell under the foredeck of his engineless, gaff-rigged wooden sloop—and letting them cry. Offshore, I suppose this made some sense. However, the confinement continued in harbor as well. And the father fancied himself a lady’s man. He’d snap the padlock on the cell and go into town to seduce a young lady to cook and clean for him. Occasionally, these ladies would pop out a child—and then be shot by pirates, fall overboard, or whatever. One young lass demanded an abortion—he gave it to her in the forepeak with a coat hanger, to save money. He was famously frugal. When his daughter Carmen needed $10 to buy medicine to save her eyesight, he wouldn’t spend the money—and then only begrudgingly allowed her to accept the medicine after horrified liveaboards in the harbor chipped in.

Thomas wearing a shirt promoting his nascent boat design business. Photo courtesy of Christina Pasquinucci
Thomas wearing a shirt promoting his nascent boat design business. Photo courtesy of Christina Pasquinucci

Within the blood-soaked pages of this riveting, extremely well-researched book, five different Tangvald family members die needlessly at sea—two of the wives, both of the children, and the egotistical Peter Tangvald as well. 

The case could be made that Peter was the most selfish sailor ever. 

How do I know? Why does this book devastate and crush and hurt me so? 

Because I knew Peter well—so well, that I considered trying to legally take Carmen away from him in 1991 by consulting a VI attorney named Jenny Jerome. Because I knew the son Thomas in 2012, just before he, too, sailed off to Fiddler’s Green. 

How I Became Obsessed With Thomas Tangvald

So much death. So much pain. All because of one self-centered, ruthless, uncaring, womanizer named Peter Tangvald. 

In the 1960s, in Quinn’s bar in Papeete, my father James E. Goodlander came across the name Peter Tangvald from the lips of a sailor named Edward Allcard, who was sailing around the world aboard Sea Wanderer, a wooden 36-foot ketch.  

Edward Allcard went on to write several books, including Single-Handed Passage (1950), Temptress Returns (1952), Voyage Alone (1964), and Solo Around Cape Horn (2016). 

My father read them all, along with Sea Gypsy by Peter Tangvald (1966). 

As a result of that chance encounter in the most famous sailor’s bar in the Pacific, Peter was a much-revered name bandied about our fist-banged galley table during my childhood afloat.

Thus, when Peter sailed into Great Cruz Bay (St John, USVI) in 1991 and anchored his engineless, gaff-rigged L’Artemis de Pytheas next to my boat, I immediately rowed over and invited him and his young daughter, Carmen, to dinner—along with our dear friends Larry and Lee Best of the ketch Perseverance of Boston. 

Since our nine-year-old daughter Roma was only a couple years older than Carmen, the kids got along well. Peter was charming. It was a wonderful evening. After all, Peter and I were both writers and offshore sailors and fathers—why wouldn’t we immediately bond? The only disconcerting note was how Carmen would flinch when Peter would speak to her—like his words were whip lashes.

Thomas with Christina and Gaston. Photo courtesy of Christina Pasquinucci
Thomas with Christina and Gaston. Photo courtesy of Christina Pasquinucci

Now it should be noted, dear reader, that, during my own childhood afloat, many attempts were made by landlubbers to have me ‘taken away by the authorities’ from my loving parents. Thus, I was, am, and always will be pro-liveaboard parenting, pro-liveaboard kid.

But Carmen had no mother—she’d vaguely fallen overboard somewhere along the way. Peter needed to get work done on his boat to prepare for an offshore passage to Bonaire. Thus, we took Carmen aboard our boat daily to play with our daughter. It was rapidly apparent to us that she both loved and loathed her father, who was extremely strict and domineering. 

Carmen was a lovely child. But we soon discovered that Peter was in poor physical health. He’d already had two heart attacks and was working on a third. Ashore, his nostrils would flare and he’d clutch his chest in obvious pain and panic. This was rather distressing, especially since we now knew that he locked Carmen in the forepeak ‘for her safety’ offshore or when he went ashore.

How ‘safely’ would she be locked in her jail cell under the foredeck if Peter popped his cork?

Thus, after consultation with my wife, I explored ‘adopting’ Carmen informally—especially since we now also knew that Peter had nonchalantly ‘dropped off’ his 14-year-old son in Puerto Rico. 

Alas, Peter angrily bristled at the suggestion. 

I then explored having Carmen ‘removed’ from her dangerous situation—but even if we managed that, the court wouldn’t be likely to award her custody to a live-aboard couple, no matter how loving. 

Besides, Carmen loved her dad—as whipped dogs do. 

It was a problem without an obvious solution—or without a solution I could implement in time.

“She’s gonna end up dead,” I told my wife, frustrated. “Peter is the most selfish man I’ve ever met.”

Peter asked me to help him ‘sail off his hook’ by raising his mainsail. I declined on the principle that if he wasn’t healthy enough to raise his own mainsail on an engineless sloop—then he shouldn’t be offshore with an innocent child locked in the forepeak. 

Others in the harbor helped. The following day, I asked how it had gone.

Thomas and Agnita Twigt, playing as children together. Photo courtesy of Agnita Twigt
Thomas and Agnita Twigt, playing as children together. Photo courtesy of Agnita Twigt

“Creepy,” said the sailor as he openly shivered—almost as if someone had walked on his grave. “That poor little girl.”

Soon thereafter, we heard that he was in Puerto Rico, and getting ready to tow (WTH?) his son Thomas’s new sailboat to Bonaire. 

This made no sense to me. Towing another vessel under sail from an engineless craft with a seven-year-old child locked in the forepeak…while wrestling with a severe heart condition? Yikes!

Was that crazy or was that crazy?

“He’s gonna kill that kid,” I told my wife again. 

And, on June 22, Peter Tangvald did just that—piling up L’Artemis onto the dangerous Iron Coast of Bonaire at night. Both he and Carmen drowned. She screamed at the top of her lungs the whole time—so loud that Peter’s son Thomas could hear her from his surfboard just outside the breakers—the very same Thomas who’d 1.) witnessed his mother killed by pirates and 2.) had searched for his stepmother who’d been knocked overboard during a jibe… and now 3.) listened to his sister die screaming as he watched the beam of his addled father’s flashlight ineffectually dance upon the frothing rocks. 

After smashing my fist into a wall a couple of times, I vowed to never ever think of Peter Tangvald again. Carmen was dead—while I and dozens of adult sailors knew it would happen. We had failed her. 

I had failed her. 

And I (mostly) didn’t think of Peter until I was sitting in a coffee shop in Thailand many years later and a young woman approached and asked if I was “Fatty, the writer.” When I admitted I was—she plopped herself down, stared me hard in the eye, and said emphatically, “I’m the wife that Peter Tangvald didn’t kill.” 

My blood rang cold—was there no way to be rid of this man and his endless nightmare?

Years after that, I sailed into Jost Van Dyke between my second and third circumnavigations, and Tessa Callwood button-holed me. She asked if I’d do her a favor—to speak to a young lad and see if I could talk some sense into him.

Why? Because he was about to set off on an arduous 1,000 nautical mile beat against the Trades to Brazil aboard a rotten gaff-rigged vessel with about as much freeboard as an Optimist pram. Why was he in such a hurry to depart? Because his wife was pregnant and if they arrived in time—the baby would be delivered free of charge. The young lad would save a few pennies on delivery room costs. 

“Damn,” I said, “I haven’t heard of such a stupid idea since 1991!”

The lad, of course, turned out to be a Waspafarian named Thomas Tangvald—yes, the very same.

I’d never met him. He’d been living with Edward and Claire Allcard, the guy my father had hoisted a few brewskis with 50 years previously in Tahiti. 

Small world, isn’t it—a small, occasionally very ugly world. 

Did I mention that Thomas and his pregnant wife Christina had a four-year-old son named Gaston aboard—who was always lashed firmly to the vessel for his own safety? 

Or that Thomas disdained harnesses and safety tethers for himself? And virtually all other safety equipment as well—even if offered to him for free? 

No, the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. 

One single glance at Thomas and I knew that, at some point, he’d drenched himself in LSD. Plus, there was the whiff of a crack pipe about the lad. And he reeked of rum—not with the faint odor of the dilatant, but with a stench gushing from every pore. 

Oasis, his engineless, gaff-rigged wooden boat, was a rotten mess. It had more leaks than a spaghetti caldron—more leaks than the White House. At the time of its demise, it wasn’t even ballasted correctly. South American thieves had made off with its valuable bilge lead. The only thing keeping that boat together were the roaches’ holding hands. 

And instead of working on her, Thomas, who had once studied engineering, was swilling rum and lecturing the other drunks at the bar on the finer points of fluid dynamics—punny, right?

Peter (left) down below aboard L’Artemis in 1974, speaking with James Wharram, the famous British multihull designer. Photo courtesy of Hanneke Boon
Peter (left) down below aboard L’Artemis in 1974, speaking with James Wharram, the famous British multihull designer. Photo courtesy of Hanneke Boon

I met with Thomas on Jost every day for a couple of weeks—and never once saw him sober. 

Each time I saw him he was drunk—occasionally almost incoherently so. 

To me, Thomas was one of those eloquent drug-addled fools who thinks he knows everything about everything—from hydroponics to crane engineering to yacht design—yet can’t quite manage to tie his own shoelaces.

Harsh? Yes. Accurate? Sadly, from my emotional viewpoint, it was. 

Did my heart go out to him? 

Of course it did.

You’re damn right it did. 

Because he’d never really escaped that jail cell under the foredeck. He carried it with him wherever he went—right up until that final moment when he, too, sailed into Fiddler’s Green. (Thank you, Lord, for arranging the wife and child to be ashore at the time.)

Peter hauling L’Artemis de Pytheas out of the shed where he built her in Cayenne, French Guyana.
Peter hauling
L’Artemis de Pytheas out of the shed where he built her in Cayenne, French Guyana.

Thomas was, in my view, his father’s final victim. 

What makes Charles Doane’s book so powerful? Most bios of sailors take a three-dimensional person and reduce them to a one-dimensional stereotype called a hero. 

Charles didn’t do that. 

He picked two complex individuals—and honored his readers by telling their complex, often unappealing truth. There were times in the book when I needed to stop, look away, and slow my breathing to prevent hyperventilation. 

As Doane so eloquently writes of Thomas, “The great irony of his life was that he could never see nor comprehend how negative his father’s influence really was. Thomas always saw his father as a victim of tragedy, and so empathized with him. What he never grasped was that his father was in fact an agent of tragedy.” 

Yes, those sailing Tangvalds made maritime history alright—five dead in four different incidents must surely be a new offshore record.

Peter with Carmen and Thomas aboard L’Artemis at St. George’s, Grenada, just after Ann was lost overboard. Photo by Olav Hasselknippe
Peter with Carmen and Thomas aboard L’Artemis at St. George’s, Grenada, just after Ann was lost overboard. Photo by Olav Hasselknippe

Drug, Environmental Pathogen and Fuel Testing for Yachts Launched

Don’t Paint over the past

Ask the experts: Dinghy Pumps?


Even if your dinghy has perfect air retention you want to keep a dinghy pump close at hand. At least that is the approach of the cautious captain and experienced captains tend to get cautious over time. So, what you end up doing is putting the pump in the locker in your dinghy or some other container in your dinghy where, inevitably, salt water will get to it.  

The big question is whether it will still work when the big day comes when you will need it? How can we predict this bit of the future?

There are basically foot pumps and hand pumps . The foot pump is easier to operate over large periods . However, most foot pumps have a metal spring inside which has an excellent chance of rusting away. The hand pump does not have that, all components being plastic which is why the hand pump is the safer option and the foot pump not and thus the choice of the cautious captain.  

Dinghy pumps need to connect to the valve on the dinghy. Most pumps come with many connections of which none fit on the dinghies in the Caribbean. Therefore, you should purchase the clever attachment with three spacers which doubles as a Rubik’s cube. This device challenges you to find which combination of colors will make the fitting work perfectly on your dinghy and seal off beautifully. As with many marine items, it’s great when it works.

Please send in Questions for the Experts to answer in a future issue to [email protected]

Watch for Bonefish

Couples Learn to Sail

Living the Dream

7 Islands to Visit in the Western Caribbean

Proximity to the U.S. Eastern Seaboard and Western Europe makes the chain of Caribbean islands that border the Atlantic Ocean the closest, and therefore the most popular, to visit.

However, there are several islands, both big and small, ripe for a port call in the Western Caribbean. It’s an ideal region to explore by sea whether simply cruising in the area or passing through to the Panama Canal en route to the Pacific Ocean.

Here are 7 Favorite Islands to Visit in the Western Caribbean:

Navy Island Jamaica. Courtesy Visit Jamaica
Navy Island Jamaica. Courtesy Visit Jamaica

1. Navy Island, Jamaica.

It might look small, but it’s mighty in movie star fame. This 64-acre island located off Port Antonio was once owned by actor Errol Flynn, whose star rose during the Golden Age of Hollywood. Rumor says Flynn won the island during a rum-soaked card game. The actor used Navy Island as his private hedonistic hideout for elaborate parties with celebrity guests. Today, flora and fauna have taken over, but there are still ruins from the heydays. Swim or snorkel over from the 32-slip Errol Flynn Marina. The small beaches on the northside are usually deserted. www.visitjamaica.com

Little Cayman Island. Courtesy Cayman Islands Tourism
Little Cayman Island. Courtesy Cayman Islands Tourism

2. Little Cayman, Cayman Islands.

Sixty miles away from its big sibling, Great Cayman, there’s no marina on this 10-mile-long by 1-mile-wide island. Anchoring is a no-no, but there are government-owned mooring balls free to use located north and south off the western island of the island. Nature, rather than soup-to-nuts of amenities, rules here. Visit the quaint Little Cayman Museum, in Blossom Village, to learn the history, nautically tied culture, and flora and fauna of the island. The Bloody Bay Marina Park is the place to go for snorkeling, while scuba divers will enjoy the spectacular coral-crusted vertical Bloody Bay Wall. There are a handful of dive shops that rent equipment. www.visitcaymanislands.com

Zama Beach Club, Isla Mujeres. Credit Jose-vazquez-unsplash
Zama Beach Club, Isla Mujeres. Credit Jose-vazquez-unsplash

3. Isla Mujeres, Mexico.

The Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico meet at this 1.6-square-mile island located 8 miles off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. Tourism development over the last three decades has turned this sleepy settlement into a full-service spot to stay, dine and shop, albeit it is less touristy than Cancun across on the mainland. Sportfishing is big here, especially sailfish season from late December through May, with several tournaments. Charter boats are available. For sailors, the biannual Regata al Sol will depart from the Pensacola Yacht Club, in Florida, to Isla Mujeres in May 2024. visitmexico.com 

Placencia Yacht Club Marina. Courtesy Placencia Yacht Club
Placencia Yacht Club Marina. Courtesy Placencia Yacht Club

4. Placencia Caye, Belize.

Palm-lined beaches, with a popular resort community, is a good way to describe this town at the southern tip of the Placencia Peninsula. A stone’s throw across the bay is the private island, Placencia Caye. It’s a mostly quiet nature-filled spot except for the small three-star hotel to the north. To the south end of the Caye is the Placencia Yacht Club. It’s open to the public. There’s a small marina here, with a nice outdoor area with hammocks and picnic tables, and a bar and restaurant. The latter serves an eclectic mix of snack foods like chips and salsa and chicken wings, along with entrees such as classic and carbonara spaghetti. https://www.placencia.com, www.placencia-yacht-club.com

Roatan, Honduras. Photo by Alix Greenman on Unsplash
Roatan, Honduras. Photo by Alix Greenman on Unsplash

5. Roatan, Honduras.

This largest of the country’s Bay Islands is a long (48 miles) skinny (5 miles at its widest) stretch of land off the mainland’s northern coast. There’s a half-dozen-plus marinas. Onshore, check out Mayan ruins that date back to 1000 BC, explore the island’s mangrove tunnels by guided wood dory, and sample baleadas, a meat, beans, and cheese-filled thick tortilla, at local restaurants. Offshore, the Roatan Barrier Reef is part of the second-largest barrier reef in the world. It’s filled with fish, coral, and critters like dolphins, sea turtles, and manatees, perfect to see by snorkeling or scuba diving. roatantourismbureau.com 

Little Corn Island. Courtesy Visit Nicaragua
Little Corn Island. Courtesy Visit Nicaragua

6. Little Corn Island, Nicaragua.

Situated 50 miles offshore, this 1.5-square-mile island is a find although it’s three times smaller than its sibling Big Corn Island some 30 minutes away by boat. The must-do’s here are beaching it, snorkeling the coral reefs, inshore and offshore sportfishing, and eating in the quaint local restaurants. Seafood like lobster, burgers, and barbeque, as well as tacos, are on nearly every menu. Look out for local specialties like Rondon, a fish-based stew thick with root vegetables, and Pan de Coco or coconut bread. There are a couple of bungalow-style hotels for those who’d like to stay ashore. littlecornisland.net

Isla Bastimentos. Photo by Azzedine Rouichi on unsplash
Isla Bastimentos. Photo by Azzedine Rouichi on unsplash

7. Isla Bastimentos, Panama.

One of the largest islands off the country’s Caribbean coast, it’s the mix of beach, reef, and jungle that makes this 24-square-mile-isle a trifecta to visit. Red Frog Beach is one of the prettiest, named for the namesake red frogs that live in the adjacent forest. IGY’s Red Frog Marina is nearby, which makes it easy to visit the island. Polo Beach, to the north, is rimmed by a coral reef where the water is usually calm and perfect for snorkeling. Much of the island is designated as part of the Bastimentos Island National Park, where one of the cutest residents are three-toed sloths. www.tourismpanama.com 

Touring and Sailing in Belize

Say Meow to Cat Island

Cruise to the Western Caribbean

Rum Review: Papa’s Pilar Lost Cask


In 2019, we toured Papa’s Pilar Distillery in Key West for an upcoming article. After the tour, we sat at the tasting table with our tour guide and the director of operation and marketing, sampling Papa’s Pilar Blonde and their new limited edition Lost Cask Blonde, with only 700 bottles available. After just that tiny sample, we left with bottle number 240. For whatever reason, it’s sat on our shelf until now.

The story behind The Lost Cask begins in one of Papa’s Pilar warehouses. Staff had found three bourbon barrels of Papa Pilar’s Blonde in a far corner. The markings on the barrel showed they had been resting there for three years. Master blender, Ron Call, took these barrels and blended the limited edition Lost Cask Blonde. 

Rum Review: Papa’s Pilar Lost Cask
Rum Review: Papa’s Pilar Lost Cask

Our article about Papa’s Pilar Blonde in September 2019 was very favorable, receiving 4.25 out of 5. The nose had a wonderful vanilla note that engulfed our senses. On the palate, the vanilla became buttery, bringing back memories of hard butterscotch candies we had as kids. The finish was smooth and satisfying. Further sips brought out hints of orange and even a bit of almond. 

The Blonde is aged for one to seven years in Kentucky bourbon and sherry barrels, then blended using the solera method. It’s unclear exactly how old the “Lost” barrels were, but judging by the richer color, the three extra years gave the rum more of a golden hue. 

He Said

The characteristics of this rum remind me of a much older rum that requires my full attention. The nose is very earthy, with notes of leather, cherry tobacco, and a subtle hint of coconut husks. I like that the palate is not sweet, and the leather and cherry tobacco take the point. The coconut husks then blossoms on the finish giving me a long and satisfying warmth. The explosion of the finish makes me wonder if I missed anything on the nose or palate.

She Said

There is an immediate bright aroma that hits my senses when Clint pours our samples. The golden liquid hugs the glass and leaves long, slow lacing. I stay with the nose for quite a while because it reminds me of something I can’t pull up. I will agree with Clint on the earthy notes, but I’m leaning more toward almonds in their shell with a slight hint of butterscotch. At first, the liquid tingles my palate, leaving me hard-pressed to find any notes. The second sip allows the butterscotch and almond to come through. My finish is nothing to write home about. It lingers but leaves nothing to contemplate.


We had different opinions about Papa’s Pilar Lost Cask Blonde. Clint enjoyed the rum from start to finish, while Terry was left wanting more. We wonder if sitting on the shelf changed the characteristics of the rum. We’ll be happy to share with you to see what you think.

4.0 out of 5

About Clint and Terry: We have sampled many a dram over our 33 years of marriage and quite often we don’t fully agree. Could be the difference is male/female taste buds. Or, somebody is just wrong.

Rum Review: Papa’s Pilar 24

Rum Review: Papa’s Pilar Blonde 7

Plantation Trinidad Vs. Barbados

NauticEd and MarineVerse Launch World’s First Virtual Reality Sailing Course


First learn virtually, then enjoy reality. NauticEd, the Austin, TX-based world leader in on-the-water and online sailing training, has partnered with MarineVerse, an Australian-based pioneer of virtual reality (VR) sailing simulation, to jointly offer the first-ever virtual reality sailing course. This incorporates VR gaming with sailing training techniques and programs. The initial VR sailing course, ‘Self Mastery,’ was co-developed by the two companies and features sailing training that balances authenticity and entertainment in a fully immersive, virtual sailing experience.

NauticEd and MarineVerse VR Sailing Instruction
NauticEd and MarineVerse VR Sailing Instruction

“We find the VR greatly accelerates student’s learning before their on-the-water training,” says Joel Staley, NauticEd spokesperson. “This can better prepare a sailor for bareboat rental in the Caribbean. The VR, in-person training, and our online sailing log provide charter companies with demonstrable evidence of real sailing experience and training. Also, the VR is a great way for experienced sailors to keep skills sharp while away from the water.”

The VR training puts players at the helm of a sailing yacht and helps them learn to trim the sails, manage boat speed, and navigate. The boat reacts to wind conditions and every decision made by the players, giving them instant feedback on how their actions impact boat behavior. Other more complex modules like docking and maneuvering within the marina, night sailing, and heavy weather are also in production for future accessibility. To access the VR sailing course featuring the ‘Self Mastery’ module, visit nauticed.org or the MarineVerseCup app on Meta Quest. 

NauticEd Reports Sailing Charter Vacation Bookings and Education Enrollments Are Soaring 

Shannon Falcone and The New Age America’s Cup

The Virtual Racing Sailor

Xquisite Yachts Purchases Bahamas’ Running Mon Marina


There’s a new cat in town! Last September, Xquisite Yachts, a luxury sailing and power catamaran brand completed its purchase of the Running Mon Marina and Resort in Freeport, Bahamas. Over the next few years, the existing hotel and marina will be upgraded and renovated into the Xquisite Catamaran Center, a hub for Xquisite owners, and the Xquisite Yachts Service Center.

“Over the years of sailing around the world to more than 90 countries, my wife Sara and I spent many months in The Bahamas,” says Tamas Hamor, Xquisite Yachts’ chief executive officer. We came back year after year. Seven years ago, we got married in Eleuthera. Strategically, Running Mon’s proximity to Florida is the perfect location to establish our service center, where Xquisite owners can bring in their vessels for servicing, repairs, upgrades, and maintenance and have a hub where they can get together and enjoy the destination.”

With its current dock setup, the marina can accommodate up to 20 large cats alongside. Additional docks will be built this year. The maximum draft of the entrance channel is 6’ at low tide, and there is 30/50/100A service, high-speed Wi-Fi, and water at the docks. As of January 15, 2023, the bar and restaurant, heated pool, showers, and laundry room will be open. Also available is a game room with billiards and darts, bicycle and jet ski rentals, and a small chandlery. In January too, the marina will gain port of entry status with Customs and Immigration clearance on the property. The hotel renovations are still ongoing, but there will be 16 luxury apartments available in the future.

Sailing with Charlie: Beach Bars

Rum Review: Captain Morgan Private Stock

Boat Yard Profile: Bradford Marine Grand Bahama

New Research Shows Dangers to Caribbean Whales & Dolphin


Who doesn’t marvel at the sight of whales breaching or dolphin riding bow waves These cetaceans play an essential role in the blue economy of the Caribbean and whales specifically are potent protectors against climate change. However, recent results of six scientific expeditions in the Lesser Antilles in 2022 by the Caribbean Cetacean Society (CCS) reveal that the waters are rich in these mammals, with 22 species observed, but that they are threatened. Out of some 437 sightings, more than half (52%) of the whales and dolphins observed had scars inflicted by humans, such as by propellers, collisions, and nets. Collectively, the CCS’s expeditions, called “Ti Whale An Nou” (Our Little Whales) is the largest cetacean study program ever conducted in the Caribbean and it’s supported by the Worldwide Fund for Nature the Netherlands (WWF-NL), the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance and other partners.

Courtesy Caribbean Cetacean Society
Courtesy Caribbean Cetacean Society

“Everyone thinks that whales and dolphins in the Caribbean are fine. But as a marine biologist, I can tell you that not having data, until now, doesn’t mean there isn’t a problem and that they need protection,” says Jeffrey Bernus, the CCS’s co-founder and director, who sailed across the Atlantic from France as a young child with his family and grew up in the Caribbean. “Our program is an NGO (non-governmental organization) that focuses on four areas – cooperation, knowledge, conservation, and communication. Cooperation among islands is especially important because cetaceans know no boundaries. We are looking next at research in the Turks and Caicos and Haiti, and by next fall hope to find partners in the ABC islands. To do this, we are looking for individuals or companies that can offer a catamaran for two weeks for us to set up our equipment and conduct the research.”

Courtesy Caribbean Cetacean Society
Courtesy Caribbean Cetacean Society

Yacht charter company Corail Caraibes, with bases in Martinique and Guadeloupe, supported the CCS with the use of one of its Lagoon catamarans for its expeditions.

Interestingly, Bernus shares that boosting whale populations can help capture more carbon from the atmosphere and affect climate change. Specifically, according to a 2019-released report by the IMF (International Monetary Fund), whales, especially great whales, take 33 tons of CO2 out of the environment during their lifetimes, which sinks to the ocean bottom with them when they die. This compares to a tree, which absorbs only 48 pounds of carbon dioxide a year. Thus, one whale is worth thousands of trees in the climate change fight. www.ccs-ngo.com

The Wound Inflicted by a Lionfish

Boat Work is Dangerous, Go Cruising and Live Longer

How to Taste Rum

Unknown ‘Blue Goo’ Puzzles Marine Scientists


Sea life can be as alien as extraterrestrials. Marine scientists with NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the US) Ocean Exploration aboard the Okeanos Explorer discovered this during a week-long expedition in August that used a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) to dive the waters between Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Not once, but several times. Many examples of a ‘blue goo’ like thing – scientists couldn’t decide if it was an animal, plant, or mineral – were seen on video at a depth of 1,400 feet. 

Unknown Blue Organism. Image courtesy of NOAA Ocean Exploration - Voyage to the Ridge 2022
Unknown Blue Organism. Image courtesy of NOAA Ocean Exploration – Voyage to the Ridge 2022

“One of the coordinators from the expedition, Sam Candio, was able to confirm that there is no conclusive identification yet of the ‘blue goo.’ Unfortunately, we were not able to collect a sample during the dive, so any further identification will need to happen through a review of video and data from the expedition,” says Emily Crum, NOAA public affairs specialist, based in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Banter during the expedition’s live feed alternatively labeled the blue-hued blob as ‘bumpy blue things’ and ‘blue bio mats’. In the end, scientists thought it might be a type of soft coral, sponge, or tunicate, the latter of which is marine invertebrate animal. 

“Regarding other finds from this expedition, the team did encounter a lot of sargassum in the region, which had an impact on overall expedition operations,” Crum adds.

The ‘blue goo’ was spotted on NOAA’s third Voyage to the Ridge 2022 expedition, which focused on exploration and mapping of the Azores Plateau, the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, and deep waters off Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. oceanexplorer.noaa.gov 

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Costeaus Blue Hole A Famous Dive

You Are What You Eat!


You are what you eat! Think of your favorite foods and make them healthier. 


Prep time: 10 minutes. Cooking time: 30 minutes. Serves: 2 -4

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, shopped small
1 cup small green peas
½ cup corn, optional
1/2 green pepper, seeded and chopped
½ red bell pepper seeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup uncooked arborio rice or basmati or brown rice

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the olive oil, add the onion and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the carrots, peas, corn, bell peppers and garlic. Lower the heat to medium-low and cook for about 10 minutes.

Rinse the rice and put it in a separate pot. Add the vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add the bay leaf and saffron. Transfer vegetables (in skillet) into pot and stir in thyme, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes. Give another good stir, then lower heat to very low and cover the pot with tight fitting lid. After 20 minutes, remove from heat. Let sit a few minutes before removing the pot lid. All vegetable stock should be absorbed; fluff with a fork and serve


Prep time: 10 minutes. Cooking time: 1 hour 10 minutes. Serves: 2-4

2 Tbsp. grapeseed or olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 Tbsp. tamari
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
½ tsp. dried thyme
1 cup cooked quinoa

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Heat the oil in a cast-iron pan over medium heat and add the onion. Cook, stirring for 5 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients, except the sauce ingredients, and cook stirring for another minute or so. Transfer to the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Mix together the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and spread over the black bean loaf. Bake another 30 minutes.


Prep time: 10 minutes. Cooking time: 30 minutes. Serves: 2

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. sweet curry powder
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced

Heat the olive oil in a pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring, about 3 minutes, then add the spices and cook for 3 more minutes. Rinse the lentils. Add the lentils and sweet potato to the pan and stir a few times, then add the vegetable stock and bay leaf. Bring to a boil and lower the heat to low. Simmer with the lid on, for about 20 minutes or until the lentils are softened. Add the rest of the ingredients, adding salt to taste and cook, stirring for 5 minutes more. Serve hot.

New Seakeeper Ride Eliminates Up to 70% of Underway Pitch and Roll


There is good news for the 1 in 3 people who can be susceptible to motion sickness. Seakeeper, the Fort Myers, Florida-based leader in marine motion control, launched its newest product this fall. Called Seakeeper Ride, it marks the company’s first product deviation from its line of gyrostabilizers. The introduction of Seakeeper Ride in the marine space paved the way for the creation of a new underway stabilization category, a Vessel Attitude Control System (VACS), derived from the Attitude Control Systems (ACS) used in air and space crafts to control pitch, roll, and yaw underway.

“Seakeeper has always been committed to bringing disruptive technology that represents a wholesale change from what’s currently available,” said Andrew Semprevivo, Seakeeper’s president and chief executive officer. “Seakeeper Ride isn’t an incremental improvement; it transforms what it feels like to be on a running boat. We’re drastically changing the boating experience… again.”

Seakeeper Ride Sportsman Open 232 Center Console

Seakeeper Ride controllers mount to the boat’s transom below the waterline. Using proprietary inertial sensing hardware and software, the system takes 1,000 measurements per second to understand the boat’s behavior in all three axes. It then commands deployment of the custom-designed rotary blades, making 100 adjustments per second at speeds of up to 300 mm/s, creating a lift that manages vessel motion instantaneously. The result is that up to 70% of the underway pitch and roll motions that often cause uncomfortable slamming is eliminated. Thus, Seakeeper Ride contributes to increased safety and provides comfort, control, and confidence to all on board.

Initially, Seakeeper Ride will be available as standard equipment only on select models from Sportsman Boats, Chris-Craft Boats, and Scout Boats as of September 2022, with plans to increase OEM (original equipment manufacturer) offerings in the coming year, as well as retail sales for DIY installation. ride.seakeeper.com

Seakeeper Sold more than 1,000 Gyros

Must Know about Stabilizer Technology For Luxury Yachts

A Quick Look at Yacht Stabilizers

Come, Service your Yacht in Trinidad and Tobago


North Western Trinidad © InvesTT
North Western Trinidad © InvesTT

Las Cuevas at low tide © Chris Anderson
Las Cuevas at low tide © Chris Anderson

View of Chaguaramas Bay © visitTrinidad
View of Chaguaramas Bay © visitTrinidad


Trinidad and Tobago’s strategic geographic location below the hurricane belt positions the country as an attractive location over other territories in the region for storage, repair and maintenance services. During the Atlantic Hurricane Season (June 1 to November 30), some Caribbean islands are affected by devastating tropical storms and hurricanes, however, Trinidad and Tobago’s location, just south of the hurricane belt, offers shelter and protection for cruisers and yacht owners.


Located in the northwestern peninsula of Trinidad, Chaguaramas is a busy commercial port and is the main hub for yachting activities in Trinidad and Tobago. Chaguaramas boasts of some of the best repair facilities in the Caribbean. Boatyards and marinas are equipped with advanced machinery and equipment to undertake repair and maintenance services of vessels of various sizes, including haul-out services. Staff are also highly trained, skilled and experienced to undertake technical work.

Safely launched at Peake Yacht Services - photo © Bruce Amlicke
Safely launched at Peake Yacht Services – photo © Bruce Amlicke

Boatyards and marinas attract vessels from various countries internationally and in the Caribbean due to their world-class repair services and competitive pricing. Products and services offered at these boatyards include, but are not limited to repairs and maintenance (fiberglass work, welding, woodwork, upholstery services, sail making, electronics and electrical work, mechanical services, painting and rigging, propeller repairs, signs and engraving, tank cleaning, refrigeration, air conditioning), marina services (hospitality services, haul-out facilities, storage facilities and dock spaces) and other services (retail shops, travel agencies and readily available spare parts).

Leopard 44 at Peake Yacht Services - photo © Bruce Amlicke
Leopard 44 at Peake Yacht Services – photo © Bruce Amlicke

Some of the larger boatyards located at Chaguaramas are listed below (Source: YSATT):

Coral Cove:

  • Project Management, Fiberglass Repair, Tank Cleaning, Mechanical Supplies, Marine Hardware, Upholstery, Chandlery and Paint Supplies.
  • Address: 125 Western Main Road
    Telephone: 1(868) 634-2040

Peake Yacht Services

  • Rigging, Marine and Insurance Surveyors, Sails and Canvas, Paint Supplies, Hydraulics, Woodworking, Propeller Repair, Welding and Fabrication, Metal Work, Air Conditioning, Engine Repair, Polishing, Osmosis Blister Repair, Antifouling and Bottom Painting and Machinists.
  • Address: Lot 5 Western Main Road
    Telephone: 1(868) 634-4420, 1(868) 634-4423
    Email: [email protected] peakeyachts.com

Power Boats

  • Electricians, Mechanical Supplies, Marine Hardware, Paint and Varnish Repair, Osmosis Blister Repair, Polishing, Dinghy and Bicycle Repair, Metal Work, Sails and Canvas, Engine Repair, Woodworking, Winch Repair, Outboard Engine Mechanics, Tour Service, Paint and Varnish Finishers, Plumbing and Electronics.
  • Address: P.O. Box 3163,
    Carenage, Trinidad W.I.
    Telephone: 1(868) 634-4303
    Email: [email protected] www.powerboats.co.tt

Yacht in the cradle at Peake Yacht Services - photo © Bruce Amlicke
Yacht in the cradle at Peake Yacht Services – photo © Bruce Amlicke

For a more detailed listing of the services available in each boatyard, see www.ysatt.com/services-table.php.


Marinas and Accommodation

Trinidad and Tobago ideally caters to all yachting needs within a convenient one-mile radius. To facilitate this, there are several marinas and hotels located in the Chaguaramas area that provide different types of services, including storage, accommodation and hospitality yachting for visitors. The three main hotels in the area are Chaquacabana, Crews Inn Hotel & Yachting Centre and Coral Cove Marina Hotel. Each hotel offers visitors a suite of hospitality services including restaurants, coffee shops, Wi-Fi, and other amenities for cruisers’ comfort.

Some of the major hotels located at Chaguaramas are listed below:


Address and Contact

Crews Inn Hotel & Yachting Centre

Point Gourde, Chaguaramas
Telephone: 1(868)-607-4000
Email: [email protected]
Link: www.crewsinn.com

Coral Cove Marina Hotel

125 Western Main Road
Telephone: 1(868) 634-2040, 1(868)634-2244
Fax: 1(868)634-2248


Western Main Rd, Chaguaramas
Telephone: 1(868)634-4319
Email: [email protected]

The Yacht Services Association of Trinidad and Tobago (YSATT)

The Yacht Services Association of Trinidad and Tobago (YSATT) is a non-profit organization established in 1994 by the boatyards and marinas in the Western Peninsular of Trinidad, to facilitate the growth and development of the Yachting sector in Trinidad and Tobago. YSATT is the umbrella body for information in the sector for both local stakeholders and foreign visitors.

Tourist Attractions

Trinidad and Tobago is home to a multiplicity of attractive activities that visitors can be immersed in all year long. Activities range from hiking, nature trails, tours of heritage sites, beaches, festivals etc. The possibilities for fun and recreation are endless. Visitors can dock their vessels at any of the many boatyards or marinas available in Chaguaramas and enjoy all the diverse attractions that Trinidad and Tobago has to offer.

For those cruisers who do not wish to vacation or stay in Trinidad and Tobago, the twin island nation is also an ideal one-stop-shop for refueling, provisioning or undertaking any repairs required before continuing along to another destination. Although a twin island state, both Trinidad and Tobago offer unique experiences.

Things to Do: Trinidad

Trinidad offers a wide range of activities that cater to every preference. There are many nature tours and hikes within close proximity to Chaguaramas, such as the abandoned Tracking Station, Bamboo Cathedral and Gasparee Caves. For the adventure seeker, Macqueripe Bay, also located in Chaguaramas, has a zip line adventure through the rainforest, as well as over the Bay. In addition, there is the Five Islands Water & Amusement Park. Trinidad’s coastline hosts a wide array of spectacular beaches with pristine waters. A favourite is the Maracas Bay, which is a short 30-minute drive through the mountainous and lush Northern Range from Port of Spain, the capital of Trinidad and Tobago.

Gasparee Caves1 - photo © visitTrinidad
Gasparee Caves1 – photo © visitTrinidad

Macqueripe Bay1 - photo © Zip-ITT Adventure Tours
Macqueripe Bay1 – photo © Zip-ITT Adventure Tours

For more information on things to do and places to visit in Trinidad, please click the link at visittrinidad.tt.

Things to Do: Tobago

Tobago, on the other hand, is located 20 miles from Trinidad. To get to Tobago from Trinidad, visitors can sail to Tobago or they can remain docked at their boatyard or marina and board a short flight with Caribbean Airlines (the national airline) to Tobago. Alternatively, there is also an inter-island ferry service that can be used to journey to Tobago. Both modes of transportation are very efficient and quite cost-effective.

Tobago is home to the oldest protected rainforest in the western hemisphere and is a bird watcher’s paradise. For tourists interested in diving and snorkeling, Tobago’s reefs are rich in biodiversity. Popular spots that satisfy these hobbies include Buccoo Reef, Nylon Pool, Pigeon Point and Little Tobago.

Exploring Trinidad

Pigeon Point1 - photo © visitTobago
Pigeon Point1 – photo © visitTobago

Buccoo Bay1 - photo © visitTobago
Buccoo Bay1 – photo © visitTobago

Nylon Pool swimming - photo © visittobago
Nylon Pool swimming – photo © visittobago

Little Tobago - photo © visitTobago
Little Tobago – photo © visitTobago

For more information on Tobago please visit the link at visittobago.gov.tt.

Make Trinidad and Tobago Your Next Stop:

It’s no secret that Trinidad and Tobago is a yachting haven. It is the perfect spot for yacht visitors desirous of undertaking repairs and maintenance on their vessels or those searching for the ideal vacation destination. If cruisers are searching for a mixture of business and entertainment or to simply wait out the Atlantic Hurricane season, Trinidad and Tobago is definitely the place to be.

For more information on entry requirements for cruisers, visit the Yacht Services Association of Trinidad and Tobago on the following platforms:

Additionally, you can contact Jesse James at +1 (868) 683-5202 and Sharon Rose at +1 (868) 757-0139.

For accommodation and boatyard information, visit the following:

Download the Trinidad and Tobago: Travel Guide App and check out their Facebook page for more information: facebook.com/exploretrinidad

Eleven TOP Yacht Shipyards

The Ugly Aspects of the Seemingly Perfect Paradise

Rum Review: Kuna 8 Year Old – Panama


The “newly arrived” rum immediately caught our eyes at our local supplier. An indigenous tribal head adorned the white box with eyes that drew us in wanting to know if he was evil or friendly. Here’s hoping Kuna 8 year old is friendly.

In researching the rum, it’s clear we found another rum cloaked in mystery. Lookout Beverages Group LTD markets Kuna along with Emperor and Canaoak Rums. The company is based in Mauritius, an island in the Indian Ocean off the coast of East Africa. They have been in business since 2014 and began exporting their rums worldwide in 2016. The company’s website has a lot of fluff in its ‘About Us’ section around marrying tradition with innovation, however, there are no verbs to explain either. Founder and CEO Christophe Aulner does say that it’s their “unique finishes” which sets their rums apart from the others.

Kuna refers to a tribe and one of Panama’s oldest communities. In this complex world, they have maintained their tribal identity, balancing life free from the complexities of modern society. Their customs are passed down to the younger generation through dance, song, and storytelling. It’s this slower pace of life that Lookout is trying to convey in their rum. 

Kuna is a blend of “superb matured rums from Panama’s best reserves.” From whom Lookout Group is getting their rum from is not disclosed. The blend is aged six to eight years in small American white oak bourbon barrels, less than 52 gallons, then an additional six months in Grand Cru de Bordeaux barrels. The type of still is not disclosed nor whether it is bottled using a solera method or from a single cask.

Rum Review: Mount Gay Black Barrel

He Said 

The nose definitely has a bourbon note with undertones of oak. There is also fruit floral that sits under the bourbon. On the palate, I continue to get a bourbon feel. While I find there are slight hints of dates, and raisins, the overall note is a smooth-aged bourbon. There is very little sweetness and nothing much to explore. The finish is long and satisfying, inviting me back for more. This is not your typical rum.

She Said

The very light honey liquid hugs the glass with tiny lacing which eventually gives way to fat droplets. The rum has a strong nose with notes of crisp, sweet apples picked right off the tree. The taste surprised me because I was ready for the alcohol burn but there was none. For a minute I get a hint of cinnamon but that quickly gives way to boot leather. I agree with Clint, there is very little sweetness to this rum and the finish is long and satisfying.

Overall Rum Review of Kuna 8 Year Old

Based on the age and color, we were completely prepared to not like Kuna. But to our surprise, the uniqueness of the rum is quite enjoyable, although Terry wanted a little more sweetness. It’s well worth the $35/bottle price point.

4.5 of 5

About Clint and Terry: We have sampled many a dram over our 33 years of marriage and quite often we don’t fully agree. Could be the difference is male/female taste buds. Or, somebody is just wrong.

Laundry Done at Leisure

Kuna Juan WHO – Paradise Found on the San Blas Islands

Learn to Pilot a Submersible


There’s a new way to build your yacht crew resume. Earn a submersible pilot’s certification. Far from a daydream, this expertise could soon be in high demand. The doubly good news is that there is now a training facility in the Caribbean.

“The submersibles market is a new market,” says Sophy Willemsen, marketing and communication executive for Netherlands-based manufacturer, U-Boat Worx. “Everyone knows submarines but having a submersible for leisure is a completely new idea. Our company started 17 years ago and at the start, we were mainly busy with developing high-quality mini submersibles. As pioneers, it was unknown to many people, but we did see a high demand in the research field straight away. Nowadays we also see a higher demand in the yachting industry. A NEMO 2-seater for example, our series model, takes up the same space as two jet skis. So yes, this makes a submersible the new ‘must-have’ for private and charter yachts.”

© Tom Van Ossanen 2020
© Tom Van Ossanen 2020

Submersible Pilot Training Facility

It’s the recreational popularity of these submersibles, along with a more reasonable than in the past price tag averaging US $600,000, that is leading the demand for trained drivers to pilot these craft. To this end, U-Boat Worx is the first in the world to open a submersible training center, and the company did so in 2019 with their Sub Center Curacao, in Willemstad.

“We chose this location because of the deep reefs around the island. It’s a hotspot for divers because of the multiple species of coral and fish. And with the collaboration with Adrien ‘Dutch’ Schrier, a well-known Caribbean entrepreneur and diving expert, this location was an easy choice,” says Willemsen.

Launch and Recovery. © Tom Van Ossanen 2020
Launch and Recovery. © Tom Van Ossanen 2020

There are five courses available, starting with the Introduction Pilot Course (IPC). Anyone can learn some of the basics of becoming a submersible pilot in this 1-day course. It starts with a brief classroom session followed by three submersible dives under the supervision of the pilot instructor. No certificate is issued, but the experience is definitely worthwhile and it’s a good test to see if you want to go further and learn more. Next up in difficulty is the Supervised Pilot Course (SPC). You’ll learn about the most exciting aspects of operating a submersible including buoyancy control, maneuvering, navigation, communication, and critical safety procedures, and take 13 dives. In the end, you receive a Supervised Pilot Certificate, where you can make dives under the supervision of the chief pilot. The third of the courses to provide experience is the Private Pilot Course (PPC), with 12 days, 21-dives, and 6 theory exams. Tuition for these ranges from US $4,200 for the IPC to US $26,500 for the PPC.

© Tom Van Ossanen 2020
Sub Center Curaçao © Tom Van Ossanen 2020

The two other courses the Center offers are those designed for professional certification. These are the Surface Officer Course (SOC), which is 10 days, 4 dives, and 7 theory exams, and then to the most highly technical Chief Pilot Course (CPC), which lasts 16 days, 24-dives and 7 exams. At the end of this, you’ll be able to make your own dives solo, or with passengers. Tuition for these is US $15,500 and US $31,000.

“This availability of this training, which lowers the bar to entry by not having to own your own submersible to learn, is creating a lot of enthusiasm. There are pilots now who are excited to work in this field either freelance or full-time. And some submersible customers now feel comfortable knowing there are trained pilots available to drive them,” says Roy Heydra, U-boat Worx marketing manager.

© Tom Van Ossanen 2020
© Tom Van Ossanen 2020

Sea More

Unlike their larger counterparts, i.e., fully autonomous submarines, submersible’s fit only a few passengers, are relatively short in range, and require a source of support, like a yacht, to repower and replenish breathable gasses. The latter limitations are hardly drawbacks for the chance to stay dry, roam typically further than snorkel or scuba allow, and explore the deep like a modern-day Jules Verne. 

“In my opinion, you take all the good parts from snorkeling and diving, like the freedom that you have and the view that you have and the weightlessness that you experience, minus all the bad parts like the pressure, cold, decompression, and difficulty breathing, and that equals what a submersible experience offers,” says Heydra. “You’re sitting in the same environmental pressure as there is at the surface, although you may be at 300 feet, and limited only by your battery power, which can operate for up to 8 hours. Plus, you stay dry.”

In addition to U-Boat Worx, Triton Submarines in Florida, USA; DeepFlight and SEAmagine, both in California, USA; and Silvercrest Submarines and Subeo, in the UK, are other manufacturers of leisure market submersibles. 

Predive. © Tom Van Ossanen 2020
Predive. © Tom Van Ossanen 2020

On the Horizon

Perhaps the next type of pilot certification Sub Center Curacao will offer is for U-Boat Worx 1,250-ton, 123-foot-long yacht submarine, the Nautilus. The company debuted its designs for this yet-to-be-built craft that functions as a superyacht and a submersible at the 2022 Monaco Yacht Show. Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea fiction may soon be fact.

Record-Breaking Submersible Dive in the Bahamas

Super Yacht Toys

In Love with the Synergy of the Flight/Float Paradigm

Haul & Launch Suggestions


Invariably, our clients haul or launch their yachts or otherwise prep them for use or layup. A significant percentage ask us for tips, and we have accumulated some ideas over the years to pass along.


Before the Launch

Inspect the BottomRule number one: Whilst working on the hull, always have yard employees move stands and chains, straps, and blocking. Do a thorough inspection of all the through-hull fittings above and below the waterline and ensure all through-hulls are clear. Make sure you exercise them regularly, so they operate smoothly throughout their full range. Make sure soft wood plugs are tied to the fitting for emergency use.

Zincs – Sacrificial zinc anodes attached to the hull and underwater parts should be removed prior to painting. Prepare metal surfaces or attachment points until clean and bright before you replace the zincs. 

Transducers and Running Gear – Underwater transducers for depth sounders, fish finders and knot meters should be carefully inspected. The same for propellers and shafts. Spin the shaft and check for damage and straightness. Inspect swim step supports, trim tabs, thruster grates and boarding ladders. 

Rudders and Steering – Check the rudders for smooth operation from stop to stop. Inspect support struts. Check shaft and rudder bearings for wear. Check outdrive/Saildrive flexible bellows mounted between the drive unit and the transom for age-related or other deterioration. Inspect them carefully! Failed bellows are a major cause of sinking. Inspect lower units for oil leaks and change the oil. Don’t forget the plug! If the exhaust ports were plugged to keep critters out, remove the plugs. If the hull has a garboard or other drain plug, be sure it’s in place and tightened securely before launch.

Exhausting All Hope!

Bonaire Boatyard
Bonaire Boatyard

Inside the Boat

Hull Fittings and Steering – Ensure all seacocks operate smoothly. Inspect every strainer. Pull the removeable knot meter paddle and give it a spin while watching the gauge to ensure it works. Operate the steering gear from stop to stop. Inspect all hydraulic and/or mechanical components.

Clamps and Hoses – Inspect hoses attached to all pumps, seacocks, and through-hulls. Replace soft, bulging, hardened, cracked, or damaged hoses. Enure hose clamps are in good shape and free of rust. Double clamps on all hoses are encouraged.

Bilge Pumps and High-water Alarms – When inspecting the bilges from stem to stern, lift every float switch to confirm your bilge pumps and high-water alarms operate properly.

Engine systems and Batteries – Check and replace zincs and impellers in engine and generator cooling systems. Check every drive belts. Mufflers and exhaust systems should be inspected for leaks or deterioration and corrosion-free condition of double hose clamps. Clean battery terminals, install terminal post covers. Ensure batteries are fully charged and are securely fixed in place, preferably in a  covered battery box.

Ocean Sailing for the First Time

During the Launch

Monitor your boat – Boatyards are busy places. Yard staff may not check for leaks after the splash. You, or someone who knows your boat, should immediately board her after she is launched.

Engine and Bilge – As soon as the boat is in the water, go below and check for leaks. Ensure the engine seawater intake seacock is fully opened. With the engine running, check for exhaust water flow. Watch the temperature gauge to make sure the engine’s cooling system is working.

For Sailboats – If your sailboat’s mast was un-stepped, most yards will step it when the boat is in the water. Be sure all turnbuckles are secured with cotter pins after the rig has been tuned.

When your boat is on her mooring or in her slip, spend some time checking everything before you depart on your first cruise. Start on the foredeck and work your way aft before going below.

Anchors and Mooring Lines – Ensure the anchor and rode are secured properly and ready to use. If there’s a windlass, make sure it works properly. Look over mooring lines and fenders, and the mooring bridle if the boat is kept on a mooring.

Deck Chores – Ensure pulpits, wire lifelines, stanchions and ladders are secure and in good repair. Ensure the running and anchor lights work. Set up deck canvas and check for leaks. Secure windows, portlights and hatches and give the boat a thorough washing. As soon as you’re done, go below and look for leaks.

Check Your Shore Power – Before you plug into shore power, inspect both ends of the cord and the onboard connection point for signs of heat damage.

Electrical and Mechanical – Start engines and generators and warm them up thoroughly. Check battery voltage; a 12-volt system charges at about 14 volts. Inspect fuel, cooling and exhaust systems for leaks. 

Water Tanks and Water Heater – If the domestic water and waste systems were winterized, drain and flush. Reconnect disconnected fittings. Check the LPG/CNG system. Turn on the gas and light the burners on the appliance. Then close and close to test the various supply and burner valves to ensure they function properly. Check for leaks.

Sail Rig Inspection – A Quick “How-To”

Check your owners’ manual for other maintenance items.

The content herein is provided as general information and is not intended to act as, amend, replace, alter or modify advice given by a marine surveyor or loss control specialist. As a prudent insurance buyer, you should consult your agent, broker, or other insurance professional with questions about your insurance needs

The Paradox of Yacht Racing


There are two types of blow-boaters—cruising sailors who savor the experience of being at sea and yacht racers who rush to get it over with. Most top international racers wouldn’t be caught dead delivering their racing boat. I’ve crewed on maxi yachts that have a ‘guy on starter switch’ to crank the diesel the instant the horn is heard at the finish line—as if the thought of sailing a few extra seconds is so abhorrent that they dare not chance it. 

These are two different worlds. The cruisers have dedicated their lives to escaping the rat race. But the racers believe they can win it—that the other rats are really dumb and totally suck at finding cheese. And, thus, these highly-motivated, goal-oriented, brimming-with-confidence racers usually do win!

Ah, the power of a positive mental attitude! America’s Cup sailor Ted Turner—affectionally dubbed the Mouth from the South—didn’t give up when the Congress of the United States passed a law discouraging the use of satellite dishes in the news business. In fact, Ted pretended that he didn’t know about the prohibition—then built three or four of these giant satellite dishes at great expense, burst into tears, and frantically petitioned the Fat Cats in Congress to allow him to commission his ‘mistakenly constructed devices’ if they wanted to get even fatter. 

Thus, CNN was born—and Ted handily won the America’s Cup at the same time. 

Racers are often rich. Cruising sailors are often so poor that they scour marina dumpsters for discarded cans of WD-40 in hopes of ‘getting lucky’ by finding a can with a few more squirts left. 

Racers, of course, have a whole ‘nother idea of what ‘getting lucky’ means. 

Just look at the spouses if you want visual clues. Cruising spouses tend to be pear-shaped and carry their weight low-in-the-thigh while racing spouses tend to be narrow waisted, small-butted, and carry extra floatation built-right-in. (There’s a reason in WWII why sailors named their PFDs after the buxom Mae West.) 

Should you Charter a boat?

Racers measure the longevity of their delicate, hi-tech, hybrid sails in the number of tacks. Penny-pinching cruisers wonder how many circs they can squeeze from their low-tech vanilla Dacron rags… haphazardly made by Lee of Hong Kong. Ditto, Dyneme versus polyester. Racers measure their stretch with a micrometer; cruisers use a yardstick as they mutter to their Euro buddies, “What’s a meter or two of stretch amongst friends?”

Now I have a confession to make, dear reader—the marine community has a few brain-addled, bipolar members and I’m one. That’s right, I’ve got a foot in both camps. One minute aboard my cruising sailboat I can sail to Antigua Sailing Week with mis-trimmed rags, while practicing mindfulness on my serene foredeck. But then, after the starting gun goes off, I can begin acting like a speed-crazed IMS Nazi with the best of ‘em!

Yes, what happens on the race course, stays on the race course—otherwise no new racer would return. That’s right—in the ‘80s I was cursed out and called stupid, very stupid, and f’n stupid by half the hot racers in the Caribbean during a race, all of whom would later hug me and scream, “…may our blessed friendship endure forever, Fatty!” while ashore. 

Talk ‘bout Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde!

Competition, of course, is at the very core of yacht racing. It’s no wonder that Dennis Conner was a backgammon champion—and would bet on the flip of coin hastily plucked from a dead man’s eye. (Do you think, dear reader, that it’s possible, from a journalistic viewpoint, to be too tough on Dennis the Menace—who was, at the end, just another world-class sportsman who couldn’t see his toes? Maybe? Maybe not? Me, I dunno.)

So why do otherwise sane individuals buy racing boats and begin to terrify their rapidly-diminishing circle of friends each weekend?

Wait—you want me to be serious for a moment? 

Here’s the truth as my pea-brain perceives it: different people relax in different ways. Some folks relax from their competitive jobs by searching out peaceful, non-competitive, individual tasks that encourage self-reflection. But others want to experience an entirely different way to be competitive while using the exact same skills they’ve honed in the boardrooms of the most powerful corporations in the world. 

Winning the America’s Cup or a Wednesday Nite Beer Can race at your local yacht club involve many of the identical skills as conquering Wall Street does—honing a highly competitive, highly motivated team with divergent skills that can work towards a common goal. Teams have to understand the racing rules—and the unwritten social rules as well. Getting in sync with the race committee and the judges are equally important. 

JFK and Jackie watching the America’s Cup in Newport, early 1960s.
JFK and Jackie watching the America’s Cup in Newport, early 1960s.

The boat is all-important—even the best sailors can’t win with a poorly-designed boat. The boat must be designed to be fast, and then built to be fast. 

Ditto, it’s rig. 

Ditto, it’s sails. 

All these components must not only be massaged with hundreds and thousands of dollar bills—but they must have been built by teams of players that were all functioning at a high level. 

Does money play a part? Of course, you can’t win at the top level with empty pockets. But money is just one factor. Yes, the America’s Cup was traditionally won by the NYYC because it had both deeper pockets and, ahem, a more flexible approach to the rules of its competitors—but not always. 

When high-school drop-out Ben Lexcen drew the first winged keel in 1982, he didn’t glue it onto the best-funded boat—far from it. Nonetheless, Australia II won the Cup in 1983.

Ditto, when Peter Blake raised money for Kiwi Magic by hustling red socks door-to-door in 1995, he trashed Stars and Stripes 5-0 with a boat that was built and campaigned on only a fraction of the American team’s spare-no-expense budget. 

It isn’t mere excellence in any one area that wins yacht races—it is excellence in nearly all areas—and shoddiness in none—that wins. 

A Hysterical … er, I mean, Historical Perspective on USVI & BVI Marine Industries

And there’s timing. It isn’t enough to win more races, you have to win more of the races when they count!

The Kiwis are famous for peaking at the right moment. While Dennis Conner’s “No Excuse to Lose” might have once been the motto of a winning team, we now know that hard work, determination, and mega bucks can only go so far. 

Timing, in life and on the race course, counts too. 

And there’s tactics as well. At some point, two vessels and their crews face each other and both have to pick the side of the course they want—pick wrong and you won’t be first to the windward mark and, thus, statistically, you lose. 

Does luck ever enter in? Of course! But luck isn’t the predominate  factor—it is how a crew respond to that luck that ultimately carries the day. 

And that’s why the AC is a series of races staged over a number of days—not a single race. 

Thus, yacht racing and corporate success go hand-in-glove. In fact, even in the Caribbean, it is hard to parse the difference between the two. 

And in a way, yacht racing is crazy. Peter Holmberg, the USVI Olympic medalist, might be the winningest sailor the Caribbean has ever produced. But at the time same time (and, in a sense, for the same reason) he’s lost more races that anyone in the Caribbean as well. 

Yacht racing is notoriously ego-bruising—most participants lose the vast majority of the time. I’ve raced all my life and could fit all the silver I’ve won in a thimble. (When other racers ask me during regattas what my handicap is—I tell ‘em the truth. “My IQ!” I lament.)

Match racing in particular is a mental game. I’ve watched (from a few feet away on the press boat) match races at the highest level during which both skippers started out the same size—and then the winner appeared to double in stature while the loser shrank. (Watching this race was the most astounding moment of my 40 years of servitude to professional yacht racing.)

One way to view yacht racing and the America’s Cup is that the team that is still learning/evolving late the game is the team that wins. Ditto, in life. 

So now another America’s Cup is getting underway in Spain. Booms are disappearing beneath the deck—and other odd, unexpected things are happening. For example; After the Kiwi team dramatically reduced its operating costs and increased its team’s chances of winning by instituting the crew nationality rules… as any patriotic Kiwi would… they then coldly turned around and divorced their motherland and sold themselves to the highest bidder, in this case Spain.

Yachting 101

Will it work? Can Team New Zealand (which I’ve strongly supported for 30+ years) have its-cake-and-eat-it too? Will Apple Products, realizing that it is bigger and more powerful than most countries, begin to flex it corporate muscles in different ways?

Am I mixing Apples and oranges? Being sensational? Spreading lies? Attempting to enflame national sympathies? Cheating? Spying? And taking advantage thereof? 

Of course I am! Isn’t that what the America’s Cup had evolved (or devolved) to? Isn’t it a race for column inches and seconds of media exposure as well an ‘around the buoys’ bash? 

Winning once upon a time was one thing—today it is quite another. Especially as regatta organizers realize that the big question isn’t what caused a competing boat to dismast—but rather how many Internet clicks did that dismasting generate?

This will be the 37th running the 172-year-old America’s Cup. I’m 70 years old and have avidly followed 20 of those series. And last week I steered an Olsen 34 to a podium finish during a Wednesday night beer can race. And the one thing I know is that regardless of whether I’m standing on the deck of slow cruising vessel or a speeding racer, I can look at the opposite vessel and sneer to my crew, “…what a bunch of idiots!”

Ah, yachting! (End)

Rum Review: Grander 12 Year Old – Panama

Caribbean’s Pillar Coral Moved to Critically Endangered List


The chance to snorkel over stands of tan-colored, 6-8 foot tall, finger-like coral could soon be a thing of the past. Pillar Coral, (Dendrogyra cylindrus), found throughout the Caribbean from the Yucatan Peninsula and Florida to Trinidad and Tobago, is now on the Critically Endangered list. This news comes from the December-announced update to the Red List of Threatened Species by the Montreal, Canada-headquartered International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the world’s largest and most diverse environmental network.

Pillar Coral’s move from Vulnerable to Critically Endangered is because its population has shrunk by over 80% across most of its range since 1990. The most urgent threat to Pillar Coral is Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease. This has emerged in the past four years and is highly contagious, infecting between 290- and 320-feet of reef per day. Bleaching caused by increased sea surface temperatures and excess antibiotics, fertilizers, and sewage running into the sea have weakened corals and made them more susceptible to disease. Overfishing around coral reefs has depleted the number of grazing fish, allowing algae to dominate and putting further pressure on corals. On the positive side, research is and has been underway to stop this disease with some successes so far.

Sargassum Weed: Boon or Curse?

“The pillar coral is just one of the 26 corals now listed as Critically Endangered in the Atlantic Ocean, where almost half of all corals are now at elevated risk of extinction due to climate change and other impacts,” says Dr. Beth Polidoro, associate professor at Arizona State University and Red List Coordinator for the IUCN SSC Coral Specialist Group. “These alarming results emphasize the urgency of global cooperation and action to address climate change impacts on ocean ecosystems.” www.iucn.org

Pillar of BVI’s Day Sails – Captain Robin Pinfold

The Head Keepers of Modern Day Indonesia

Wally Castro Marine Earns Outstanding Sales Award from Boston Whaler


The year 2022 was a very good one for Wally Castro Marine, located at Puerto del Rey, in Fajardo, Puerto Rico. The Boston Whaler dealer earned the first place Outstanding Sales award at the brand’s Regional Dealer Forum held on October 26. What’s more, Wally Castro Marine employee Javier Perello picked up an engraved plaque in recognition of Sales Excellence by an Individual as did Jose Mosquera, who received an award for Top Sales Recognition. 

Wally Castro (third from left). Courtesy Wally Castro Marine
Wally Castro (third from left). Courtesy Wally Castro Marine

“The sales team has done an outstanding job this year,” says Castro. “The word is teamwork. We have an amazing team that is not only sales, but we also have an excellent service team that supports them. Boston Whaler is a great brand. Customers become family and stay loyal to the brand. As families grow, the Whalers they buy grow too!”

Three Generations of Boating History at Puerto Rico’s Wally Castro Marine

In 2023, Wally Castro Marine will open new offices, a shop, and a service center in western Puerto Rico. In Puerto del Rey, the company is expanding and renovating its service center to offer more services to its customers. The company also keeps enhancing the benefits of membership in the Puerto Rico Boston Whaler Owners Club and offering exclusive events, of which the largest is Christmas in July, in Virgin Gorda, BVI.

Boston Whaler, an Edgewater, FL-based division of Brunswick Corporation, also announced its regional Caribbean runner-ups in Outstanding Sales. These are Performance Boats, with its Caribbean location in Cancun, Mexico, second; Harbour House, in Grand Cayman, third; Corsa Marine, in Trinidad & Tobago, fourth; and Paradise Boat Sales, in Antigua, fifth. www.bostonwhaler.com 

Wally Castro Opens New Facilities at Puerto del Rey

The Lighter Side of Watermakers

ScubaJet Stars in Avatar, You Can Own One Too


Feel like a movie star with a ScubaJet. This battery-powered water-jet system, which can be enjoyed as everything from a swim, snorkel, or dive scooter to an electric-powered motor for a SUP, canoe, or kayak, gained Hollywood notoriety last fall with its debut in Disney’s Avatar 2: The Way of Water. 

The road to fame started in 2017 when the team for Canadian filmmaker, James Cameron of Titanic, Aliens and The Terminator fame, reached out to the Austrian-headquartered company to see if it could provide ScubaJets to support the film’s underwater scenes, tells Sabrina Hanneman, co-founder, and chief marketing officer. “We provided our ScubaJets with a custom-made controller. It’s called the ScubaJet jet pack. The actors put these on their backs. They could then trigger the ScubaJet themselves whenever needed.”

Deviant Decadent DVD Dunces

SCUBAJET underwater scooter snorkeling
SCUBAJET underwater scooter snorkeling

Essentially, after the actors completed a stroke and were in the glide phase of the swim, they’d trigger the jet packs, and it would push them forward several feet. At the same time, the actors moved their hips as if they had a tail making the propulsion seem natural. ScubaJet played such a significant role in making the movie’s underwater scenes that the watersport device was listed in the credits.

Ten Top Caribbean Movie Destinations

Beyond filmmaking, ScubaJet is a perfect watersports gadget, says Hanneman. “The Pro model weighs only 6.6 pounds and is 16.5 inches long, meaning it can fit in backpacks and even carry-on luggage due to its smart stackable fly battery. Those who want to go underwater for their own filming can buy a modular mounting system for accessories like the ScubaJet camera mount. In January, we launched a brand-new ScubaJet Performance product line that we think will be an industry game changer.”

ScubaJet models range in cost from just under $1,200 to over $4,000 with accessories. Buyers can order via the company’s website or Caribbean-based dealers such as Blue Ocean Marina, in Carolina, PR. www.scubajet.com 

The Moorings NEW Catamaran for Premium Crewed Yacht Sailing Vacations

Six Top Caribbean Beach Bars on Their Own Islands

There’s nothing like a toes-in-the-sand, rum-soaked, calypso-themed Caribbean beach bar experience. Now take that vision one step further with a venue on a deserted or barely habited island reachable only by boat. Here is a sampling of six top beachfront bars and restaurants that fit this quintessential Caribbean vibe:

Dinghy’s Beach Bar and Grill, Water Island

Dinghy’s Beach Bar and Grill, Water Island

1. Dinghy’s Beach Bar & Grill.

Water Island, often called the fourth U.S. Virgin Island, isn’t uninhabited as there are nearly two hundred residents. However, this residential enclave has no cars, gas stations, or shops, but it does feature this beach bar at Honeymoon Bay. “We are famous for our on-beach dining, beautiful calm waters, and amazing food and service,” says Jeff Birchenough. “Our signature beverage is the famous Paddle Wacker. It’s a Bushwhacker with peanut butter and chocolate. People call it a Reese’s Cup in a drink.” The beach here is also famous as the venue for the sunset scene in the Brad Pitt movie, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. The Water Island Ferry departs from St. Thomas’ Crown Bay Marina for the 10-minute trip. Dinghy’s offers a free shuttle from the dock to the bar. dinghysbeachbar.com 

Take a Trip to Tobago

Pirate’s Bight Bar and Restaurant, BVI
Pirate’s Bight Bar and Restaurant, BVI

2. Pirates Bight at Norman Island.

Legend tells this British Virgin Island is the setting for Robert Lewis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. Today, most guests arrive at the island by charter, on their own boat, or via the Norman Island ferry that runs 7 days a week, departing at 11 a.m. from the Hannah Bay Marina in Sea Cow’s Bay Tortola and returning from Norman Island at 3 and 4:30 p.m. “Most special is the open-air restaurant that allows you to bask, eat, drink and play on the pristine beach and water that are protected in The Bight,” says Natalie Matthias-Wilkinson. The bar at Pirate’s Bight creates an awesome Pirate’s Punch made with Captain Morgan Spiced Rum. Beef lovers, fish lovers, vegans, kids, and those looking for Caribbean cuisine will all find something on the lunch and dinner menus. www.piratesbight.com

Tales from the Charter Cockpit: A Fish Trap in Hand

Prickly Pear Bar + Restaurant, Anguilla
Prickly Pear Bar + Restaurant, Anguilla

3. Prickly Pear Bar & Restaurant.

Located six miles west of Road Harbour, Anguilla, and reachable by private boat, charters and private water ferries that depart from Sandy Ground, the easternmost of the cays is home to this palm-shaded beach bar. “Prickly Pear offers an oasis of memorable activities from the pink salt pond to the nature trails, fishing, diving the underwater caves, and lounging on the talc soft sand. This experience is translated in the specifically crafted cocktails and new menu,” tells Ivan Melfield Connor Jr. The signature cocktail is a Prickly Pear Punch. It’s a turquoise rum punch made with five select rums and fresh juice. One of the new menu offerings is a Cay Catch Lunch – fresh-caught fish, grilled crayfish, lobster, and other island delicacies, combined with a guided snorkel tour. pricklypearanguilla.com 

Asparagus – What Is?

Yellow Beach Restaurant at Pinel Island, St Martin
Yellow Beach Restaurant at Pinel Island, St Martin

4. Yellow Beach Restaurant at Pinel Island.

A small fishing boat-type ferry runs on the half-hour from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., from Rue de Cul de Sac on St Martin to Pinel Island. The one-way trip is 10 minutes, or 15 if you’d rather go by kayak or SUP from the beach. The bar and restaurant here is the perfect spot to spend the day. Enjoy swimming, snorkeling, or sun-soaking with a cocktail in hand. Then, book a table at the restaurant for grilled lobster basted in either Creole sauce or garlic butter. The most popular cocktail is the Bam Bam, made with rum, lime, sugar, and passionfruit juice. www.yellowbeach.restaurant

Happy Island, Grenadines
Happy Island, Grenadines

5. Happy Island.

A shallow bottom boat, either your own or a charter, is the best way to reach this manmade island of conch shells located off Union Island, in the Grenadines. Union is the main spot for sourcing this seafood delicacy, hence the heaps of leftover shells available. “It was a labor of love that required patience and time, but Janti Ramage was determined to use these discarded shells to craft his very own paradise. Today Happy Island is a destination where good friends, fun memories, and great drinks are made,” says Natasha Anderson, marketing officer for the St. Vincent and The Grenadines Tourism Authority, in St. Vincent. The drink to order is a Happy Island Rum Punch. www.facebook.com/happyislandgrenadines 

Singer Sabrina Frances performs at Roger’s Barefoot Beach Bar, Hog Island Grenada
Singer Sabrina Frances performs at Roger’s Barefoot Beach Bar, Hog Island Grenada

6. Roger’s Barefoot Beach Bar.

Technically there’s a bridge to Hog Island, but most people get to this island off Grenada’s south shore by boat, either their own or a water taxi from the Woburn dock. Sunday is the big day here when there’s a BBQ and often live entertainment. “Live music events are hugely popular and occur every month or so. They are announced on our Facebook page,” says Helen Mussell. “The most popular well drink is a rum punch and Roger (Strachan) always makes a big pot for Sundays.” New is a rebuild to the bar with an African theme. www.facebook.com/Rogers-Barefoot-Beach-Bar 

7 Day Charter Itinerary in St. Maarten / St. Martin – St. Barths – Anguilla

How I Became Obsessed With Thomas Tangvald


The Boy Who Fell to Shore

This all started innocently enough, in the spring of 2013. Phil “Snake Wake” Cavanaugh, an old sailing buddy, and I arrived at Marina Puerto del Rey in Fajardo, Puerto Rico, to reconnect with Lunacy, my Tanton 39 cutter, so we could cruise the Spanish Virgin Islands for a couple of weeks. We were hustling through routine preparations, scoring groceries and parts needed for minor repairs, when Phil returned to the boat from Puerto del Rey’s chandlery and casually dropped a magazine in my lap—the March 2013 issue of All At Sea. Once I got around to reading it, my mouth fell open.

Inside, on page 52, was a feature story, the first in a series of three, by one Thomas Tangvald.

Thomas with Christina and Gaston. Photo courtesy of Christina Pasquinucci
Thomas with Christina and Gaston. Photo courtesy of Christina Pasquinucci

I recognized the name immediately. Back in the 1990s, early in my own career as a bluewater sailor, I’d read a very memorable book entitled At Any Cost. This was an autobiography by Thomas’s dad, Peter Tangvald, who was in his day a renowned bluewater sailor. He was the man who inspired Lin and Larry Pardey to roam the planet in a sailboat without an engine. And his autobiography, some will recall, was posthumous. The last pages of his book—written as an epilogue by Thomas, who at the time was just 15 years old—described how Thomas lost his dad and younger sister in a terrible wreck one night on the windward shore of Bonaire.

I cannot tell you how happy I was to connect those two disparate dots over that chasm of 20 years—from the sad orphaned boy, stranded on Bonaire, to the seemingly confident and competent young man writing in All At Sea of his “micro-farm” on Vieques and of his plan to emigrate to Brazil by sailboat with his wife and young boy. I was very pleased—ecstatic even—to learn that Thomas seemed to be doing so well.

When I got home, I wrote a long enthusiastic post about Thomas and his father’s career on my blog WaveTrain (wavetrain.net) and, of course, looked for the next two issues of ALL AT SEA. In his trilogy of feature stories in this magazine, entitled “Two Thousand Miles to Brazil,” Thomas described how he modified Oasis, a 34-foot Puerto Rican nativo racing sloop, and transformed her into a modest barebones bluewater boat. It was, by the sound of it, an agonizing process. He also described how he sailed this crude vessel through the Caribbean basin and ultimately arrived safely in Brazil, where his wife Christina just three days later gave birth to their second child.

Thomas, at last, had arrived in his promised land! And he was the father of a newly born Brazilian citizen. The future looked bright.

Thomas aboard Oasis taking a sextant sight during the voyage to Brazil. Photo courtesy of Christina Pasquinucci
Thomas aboard Oasis taking a sextant sight during the voyage to Brazil. Photo courtesy of Christina Pasquinucci

So I was stunned and genuinely gutted when I got word just a year later, in May 2014, that Thomas had disappeared at sea while sailing solo on Oasis off the coast of Brazil. No wreckage or remains were ever found, and no one knows what really became of him. Some believe he must still be alive, hiding out from the modern world somewhere. One old cruising friend of his later assured me Thomas couldn’t possibly be dead—he was much too good a sailor for that—and that he must now be king of a lost tribe up a river somewhere.

Though I had never met him, thoughts of Thomas haunted me for nearly a year. Eventually, I realized I’d have to do something with the energy he had created within me. So I embarked on a quest to tell his story, a project that has consumed me for the past six years.

Peter with his last wife Florence aboard L'Artemis with (from left to right) Thomas, Carmen, and Virginia. Photo courtesy of Clare Allcard
Peter with his last wife Florence aboard L’Artemis with (from left to right) Thomas, Carmen, and Virginia. Photo courtesy of Clare Allcard

The deeper I got into the story, the more obsessed I became. Anyone who has read At Any Cost will know even the bare bones of Thomas’s early biography are quite out of the ordinary. He was born during a passage on his father’s homebuilt boat, L’Artemis de Pytheas, in the Indian Ocean, two weeks from land. At age two, he saw his birth mother, a young French woman, shot to death by boarding pirates during a passage across the Sulu Sea, south of the Philippines. At age four, he saw his first stepmother, an Asian woman, badly beaten and nearly raped by thieves in Tunisia. At age seven, he saw this woman lost overboard during a transatlantic passage from Europe to the Caribbean. Finally, there came the awful denouement—having known nothing but the cruising life afloat, he was suddenly cast ashore, all alone, on the jagged coral shore of Bonaire.

The full story of Thomas’s life is both inspiring and terrifying. For a number of years as he was growing up, he had such limited contact with human society he believed most people must live on boats, just as he and his family did.  He received almost no formal education, and mostly educated himself, reading the books he found on his father’s boat, watching the natural world around him, and listening to what grown-ups talked about. By the time he was orphaned, Thomas was fully fluent in three languages, had taught himself celestial navigation, and was fascinated by mathematics and physics. Ultimately, he had little trouble gaining admittance to prestigious universities in Great Britain.

Thomas down below on Melody as he prepared the boat to sail from Cornwall for Puerto Rico.
Thomas down below on Melody as he prepared the boat to sail from Cornwall for Puerto Rico.

Having largely satisfied the requirements for a Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Leeds in advanced mathematics and fluid dynamics, Thomas might easily have followed his passion and become a yacht designer. But there was an unfathomable darkness within him that prevented this. Some readers of this magazine may recall Thomas’s career on Culebra in the earliest years of this century—all the decrepit boats he tried to maintain and ultimately lost, and his run-ins with the police there. Others may recall his time on Vieques—the exquisite little house he built, his micro-farm, the Rasta Pasta food truck he ran with Christina, and the Norwegian TV crew that once descended on the island like a comic horde so as to lead him back to the wreck site on Bonaire.

My ultimate purpose here, of course, is to titillate you into buying my new book. And perhaps you are laughing at me, thinking I have spilled all the beans and have shared too many spoilers. But no, I assure you, we have only scratched the surface here.

The Author, Charles Doane, at sail
The Author, Charles Doane, at SAIL

It truly is an amazing story… and I am still very obsessed by it.