Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Sophie and Frederick

BTW - I sent you a picture of two women smoking in a café last time; I just
thought they looked so French, that I took their picture and sent it along.

Also BTW - Last night we sat on the deck of THE Villa and watched the
Maltese Falcon set sail and head over to Simpson Bay. It was a fantastic
sight. It looks like it sails like a 50 footer.

I think I told you that when we were looking for YoYo, we stopped by his
boat Cheriveri (this is old french for a sea chanty that mocks the captain)
there was a man on board, who knew YoYo and wuold tell him we had come by.
After hanging out with YoYo in the Villa, we went back to his apartment
where we met that same man again - Frederick, along with his wife Sophie.
Over early afternoon beers, we learned Frederic and Sophie's sad tale. It
had happened just two weeks ago.

The lived on their aluminum boat for 12 or 20 years, I don't remember, and
decided that it was time for an upgrade to a larger catamaran. They brought
their boat to Annapolis and sold it there, and bought a Cat. They pulled the
two boats up next to each other, and transferred all of their wordly
possessions and memorabilia from world cruising on their new boat. Sophie
flew back to St Barth's to attend totheir life here and finish the paperwork
on the boat ownership and insurance, and Frederic and a friend set out for
St Barth's. A few days into the trip they struck a whale. I think he said
"Mal chance".

The whale was mortally wonded, and unfortunatly, it appeared to them that
the Cat may have been too.

The whale suffered a large gash in his back, and swam off streaming a swath
of blood meters wide. Frederick could not tell what kind of whale it was,
nor the extent of the injury, as he had to turn his attention to his boat.
The forward compartment on one of the hulls was compromised which did not
present a great problem. Like most cats, there was a watertight bulkhead
behind this compartment. But the saildrive had been stove in, and in
addition, the rudder had been twisted up into the stern section of the hull.
He had water coming in to the forward, middle and aft sections of the boat
on one of two hulls.

One nice thing about cats is that the don't have any ballast. Madness has
about 8000 lbs of lead in her keel to provide righting moment. Cats rely on
form stability to keep the shiny side up. So Frederick did not have to worry
about the lead dragging the one good hull to the bottom. They had a fighting

I was spellbound listening to Frederick tell the story, sipping on our tall,
thin Heinekens at the table in YoYo's living and dining room. On the wall
above Frederick was the picture of the motorcyle and sidecar, not far away
was the guest bed with it's white mosquito net draped over it. Frederick sat
next to two open windows with no screens to block the view of St Barth's
harbor below and hills above though YoYo's lush tropical plantings. I
realized what a rare privilege it was to be there hearing his story and
experiencing the culture adventurous and fun-loving people. I asked
Frederick and Sophie if I could take their picture, the result is attached.

Frederick and his friend fought to save the boat for 2 days but were losing
ground. The USCG flew over to assess the situation and to see if Frederick
was willing to abandon ship. The julls were sinking lower in the water, and
the good hull was starting to be threatened with flooding. Also, they were
not making much progress toward land.

I don't know what information was available to Frederick and Sophie at that
time, but not all of the paperwork was completed on the boat, and their
insurance was not in force. So I cannot tell you if he knew this when he
told the CG that he was ready to abandon his ship and all he possessed in
order to preserve his life.

The Coast Guard routed a frieghter bound for Puerto Rico to his aid, and
they were delivered there. The reason we met him on YoYo's boat is that they
needed a place to live.

What is remarkable was/is their humor and good spirits. You can see moments
when the magnitude wheighs them down, especially with Frederick...but he
shakes it off and tries to lighten his spirit; I think for himself more than
for his company. He said yesterday in french "time to turn the page and look
to the other shore" In French it rhymes - Paagsh and rivaagsh - so it is
more poetic.

So enough of this sadness, Frederick concluded. Tonight is the full moon
party, do you want to come?