THOMAS TANGVALD: Declared Lost At Sea

9 May

I really really hope this turns out not to be true. You’ll recall I published a rather long post last spring about Thomas Tangvald, son of the famous traditional-boat cruiser Peter Tangvald. Thomas, who lost his dad and half-sister Carmen on reef off Bonaire when he was just 15, had started publishing a series of articles in All At Sea about a voyage with his own son and pregnant wife from the Caribbean to Brazil aboard a traditional Puerto Rican nativo sloop, Oasis, that he had refit and reconfigured for ocean sailing.

Unfortunately, I recently received word from Jacques Mertens, Thomas’s step-grandfather (it’s a complicated family, read the earlier post to figure it out) that Thomas was reported missing at sea two months ago and now has been officially reported lost at sea by the Brazilian coast guard. Thomas had been sailing singlehanded from French Guyana to Brazil aboard Oasis, having set out in late January. He had been working in Cayenne, French Guyana, designing fishing boats for a local company there.

According to Jacques, the French Garde Cotes have not given up and are still searching for Thomas. “Normally I would consider him lost, but Thomas is a very special person,” Jacques wrote me in an e-mail. “I still have some hope that Thomas is on anchor somewhere drinking cocktails and will reappear to surprise everybody.”

I sure hope so, too, but at this point in the game it seems increasingly unlikely.

I was just thinking of him, too, as I only recently discovered he had started publishing a blog of his own, called Tangvald: Sailing Adventures and Boat Design. It’s a very interesting mix of personal history, background on Oasis and nativo sloops, traditional sailing craft generally, and some quite technical discussions of boat design.

He also posted this video of him and his family sailing aboard Oasis before he refit her. He in fact was (is?) a highly intelligent and very independent young man. Truly one of a kind.


  1. Sandra Colón

    I will always remember you with great affection , a great human being , you still live in our hearts!

  2. stephanie

    christina…….mi amore….if you are out there, please contact me. i am crying about what happened with thomas……god, i love you….timmy loved you

  3. Ginny Filiatrault

    Hello family of Thomas Tangvald. I send my deepest condolences to you all with the apparent loss of Thomas. I met Peter Tangvald his father many times back in the mid fifties when Peter sailed from Galapagos to Los Angeles at Henry’s Marina where I was a part of SSCA gang putting out the SSCA Bulletin. I was only 19 and lived aboard my Hanna Carol ketch. I saw Peter other times and saw Thomas when he was very young. My prayers are with you all, Ginny Filiatrault

  4. Ralph

    he was not that experienced if he decided to go sailing in the open ocean on a boat that was not designed for it; it was rather irresponsible from his part.
    I hope he is OK somewhere out there

  5. Ignacio Estrada-Digna Feliciano

    We regret the news of Thomas, but we also know he was very experienced and we do hope he will reappear. His only fear was falling overboard in cold water. It is also good to know that Cristina and the boys are well in Puerto Rico. Ignacio from sailboat “Espiritu Libre”

  6. Pingback: Jan 2014 Thomas Tangvald Missing off Brazil - SailNet Community

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