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Bakewell-White Yacht Design

Murdered American cruising sailors 'took a short cut'

by Lee Mylchreest on 17 Sep 2011
Fai Tira sailing off the coast of Oman .. .
Two British sailors who have just completed a circumnavigation have spoken out about the four American cruising sailors who were murdered by Somali pirates in February this year in the Indian Ocean.

They believe that the four, Phyllis Macay, Robert Riggle and Jean and Scott Adam on their yacht Quest had 'taken a short cut and sailed further out into the ocean where it was boarded and the tragedy took place.'


While the rest of the Blue Water Rally in which Peter Callis and John Hazell on their yacht Fai Tira were travelling were staying closer to the shoreline, the sailors on Quest were a hundred miles away when they were attacked and murdered.

However, he told the Ivy Bridge Gazette that, ‘It could have been any one of us. It was very close to all of us. We had been out celebrating with them on many occasions on birthdays and at Christmas.’ Peter added: ‘They were friends that we had made – good friends.’

All of the sailors in the Blue Water Rally, which has since been disbanded, were forced to sail in convoy with other sailors as they made their way across the pirate-infested waters.

The four American cruising sailors and their yacht had been attacked and captured and there were 13 Somalis on board the Quest. The sailors were murdered as US forces tried to negotiate with their captors.

The trip across the Indian Ocean turned out to be the most dangerous part of the two-year trip the friends had made around the world – starting out from Dartmouth in August 2009 on board their jointly owned 44ft yacht.

The trip was a dream of a lifetime for both men and they made the trip with the support of the Blue Water Rally organisation which meant that they got to know a number of other sailors making similar supported trips.

After the tragedy had taken place, the Blue Water Rally and other boats, who had reached Salalah in Oman, met to make the decision about what to do next. The murder had been a game changer for the Rally, who also received the news that a Danish family of five and their two crew had just been attacked and kidnapped. (They were released last week after the payment of a hefty ransom, rumoured to be in the vicinity of US$3 million)

Most of the boats opted to wait for a ship to transit their yachts through the Gulf of Aden and up the Red Sea, and they collected their boats in Turkey on their arrival in the Mediterranean.

The rest of the pair's experiences were 'magic' by contrast. The enjoyed places like the Galapagos Islands and the islands of Polynesia. ‘You know about them but you never think you are going to visit them,’ he said.

At one point they sailed for 24 days without seeing another boat or even an aircraft. ‘Then you know that you are completely alone,' John told the paper. 'You are in a wilderness and if anything goes wrong they are not going to get to you.’

The two have just arrived back in Dartmouth this week, and say they are glad to be back John said: ‘It was an opportunity for us to have one last fling before we got too old.’

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