Hey All –

So it was an eventful day yesterday. In a brief, our J/120 has sunk, but everyone is safe and sound.

The boat was heading south in the Baja-Ha-Ha with two instructors (Eugenie and Barry) and three students on our annual cruise south to our Puerto Vallarta location. They put into Ensenada briefly for some minor repairs (a loose wire in the wiring harness seems to have been the culprit), then headed back out Tuesday morning. You can see their posts below, and they seemed to be aclimating well to shipboard life. I got an email from them in the evening reporting that all was fine and they were making good time. They made the scheduled roll call in the morning at 9am, and all was fine…

Here is what I know from the brief conversations I have had with the crew: about 10am, they came across a pod of whales. Their behavior was described as ‘erratic.’ One or more of the whales struck the boat multiple times, and the boat began taking on water at a rapid pace. It sounds like, not surprisingly, most of the damage was around the rudder. They made an attempt to bail the boat and get a distress call out on SSB, but it was clear very quickly that the boat was a loss. They activated the EPIRB (emergency beacon), boarded the liferaft, and the boat was reportedly gone within 7 minutes of the strike.

I was in contact with the the USCG from the time the EPIRB went off. They did an absolutely stellar job. Within four hours of receiving the initial distress call, they reported that they had safely lifted all five sailors into the helicopter and were returning to San Diego. Eugenie has a bruised hand, but there were no other injuries. I personally am in shock… this is the stuff you read about but you think will never really happen. You can make all the preparations in the world, load boat with experienced sailors, and still have unexpected consequences. A bit humbling, to be sure. We all need to remember that when we go sailing, we really go to sea in every sense.

I know we will get a good debrief from the crew, and we’ll be sure to post more info and some ‘lessons learned,’ but I am tremendously relieved that everyone is safe. All of us here at J World are in deep gratitude to the folks of the USCG. Man, they run a great operation. And my appreciation goes out to Eugenie and Barry for a job well done, and to the crew who ended up with a lot more than they bargained for…

Anyway, that’s the latest report from here… the boat was a great boat. She was hull #9, the ex-Gannett, ex-Crosswave, now known simply as “J World.” She had a very sucessfull racing career on both coasts, and we sailed her some 10,000+ open ocean miles per year – not to mention subjecting her to all the abuses that students can dish out – and she took it in stride.

Anyway, thanks again to all of you out there for the support…

All the best,

Wayne Zittel

3 replies
  1. Jim and Heather on Meerkat
    Jim and Heather on Meerkat says:

    Wayne – we are so, so sorry to hear about the loss of this boat, but SO incredibly happy your crew was ok.
    We were in Mexico last year and hung out with your awesome parents in San Blas & the Sea.

  2. Behan
    Behan says:

    We’re cruisers in MX who heard the news. From the crew of Totem, we’re so glad that everyone is safe…and HUZZAH for our amazing USCG!

    We heard from friends on the crew of CAPAZ doing the Haha, who asked to pass this message- I think Eug. & Bryce have a fishing wager to pick up at a later date!

    “…the crew of CAPAZ is so relieved that the unimaginable event of her boat being lost was tempered by all the souls getting to safety quickly. Also, that Bryce is totally bummed that we will not be seeing her in Cabo, as he caught a Yellowfin on the way into Turtle Bay and believes that he would have won their bet!”

Comments are closed.