SEA NYMPH SIGHTED: Volvo Race Boat Spots Derelict Vessel Abandoned by Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiava

15 Feb

Sea Nymph sighted

She has risen again to infest the newsfeed of unsuspecting sailors! The good vessel Sea Nymph–belonging to controversial bluewater sailor Jennifer Appel, abandoned by her and shipmate Tasha Fuiava and their two dogs last October–was sighted yesterday approximately 360 miles east of Guam by skipper Dee Caffari and her crew aboard Turn the Tide on Plastic, a VO65 racing in Leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race.

Caffari in her text report couldn’t help remarking on the irony of the situation: “I just hope now we have given authorities her position there is a chance for salvage or for scuttling her to prevent a far worse disaster in our oceans. We are asking you not to litter the oceans with plastic and here we have a whole yacht floating aimlessly in our oceans!”

Not only a yacht, but a plastic one at that.

Before all you haters out there start heaping more abuse on poor Jennifer Appel, let me first point out that if you look at the screen grab up top, taken from the drone video below, you’ll see that Sea Nymph is way down on her lines and is obviously taking on water and I’m guessing won’t be on the surface too much longer.

Second point: it wasn’t Jennifer Appel who controlled the circumstances of Sea Nymph’s abandonment, but the U.S. Navy. I know of no situation where crew abandoning a yacht at sea were ever ordered by U.S. authorities to scuttle their vessel before leaving it. I know in my own case we were not ordered by the U.S. Coast Guard to scuttle Be Good Too. I also know of no instance in which a vessel underway has struck an abandoned yacht at sea, though it is obviously possible.

Third point: if Dee Caffari truly was that worried about Sea Nymph posing a threat, maybe she should have stopped and scuttled the boat herself.

I do know that Vestas, a VO65, struck a manned fishing vessel while sailing at high speed into Hong Kong at night on the last leg of this race, killing one crew member on said fishing vessel. So I do hope at least the VOR PR machine will maintain some perspective here.

To my mind the most interesting feature of this story is how being able to launch a drone to investigate the derelict they found saved Caffari’s crew from having to interrupt their race. They had another competitor, Brunel, in sight at the time, so I’m sure were not eager to stop sailing. Instead they sent the drone feed into race HQ, confirmed Sea Nymph’s identity and the fact that she had no souls aboard, and thus were able to continue their happy duel with Brunel.

IN OTHER NEWS: You may have noticed the other popular sailboat disaster of the moment. Tanner Broadwell and Nikki Walsh, two young wanna-be cruisers, lost their Columbia 28 trying to enter John’s Pass in Florida last Wednesday night. It’s a tricky place apparently. They hit a shoal at low speed, and their keel fell off. The boat turtled and sank with all their possessions.

Turtled Columbia

I can’t help noting that certain persons who were fiercely critical of Appel and Fuiava when they suffered their mishap have nothing but sympathy for these two. (As do I.) Maybe my tedious lectures about giving the benefit of the doubt to sailors in trouble are having some effect.

I also noticed that author/yacht-broker Melanie Neale, who once lived on a Columbia 28 in her wanton younger days and wrote a column about it for Cruising World, briefly opined on Facebook that this might have been her boat. It turned out it wasn’t, but she also noted she had to do a major keel job to keep hers from falling off.

Buyers of Columbia 28s be warned.


Read Waterlines: Auto-da-Fé, here.



This article was syndicated from Wavetrain


  1. Charlie

    @David: Thank you. I’m glad someone agrees wth me!

    @Brian: There have been many examples of abandoned boats staying afloat far longer than Sea Nymph has been afloat. Do you seriously believe Appel struggled for five months trying to fix the boat and then abandoned it just to get media attention? That makes no sense at all. I know for a fact she would much rather have the boat back than have endured all the negative publicity she has received.

    @Andy: It is interesting. I believe British authorities do encourage people to scuttle abandoned boats, while American authorities do not. I have no idea why. As for criticizing Caffari, it is very mild criticism, politely pointing out an inconsistent, even hypocritical public statement she made. Nothing like the angry abuse Jennifer Appel has suffered. Why is it incumbent on others rather than on Caffari to address what she perceives as a threat? Yes, she was racing at the time, but she could easily have asked race HQ for time credit to scuttle the boat.

  2. Andy

    Totally out of order to criticise Dee Caffari. Not called for. Boats in the OSTAR were scuttled in the North Atlantic when the crews were taken off. You are right it was for the US Navy to do the right thing. As for feeling any sympathy for Appel, she made her own bed s now has to lie in it.

  3. Brian epperson

    If the boat was s still afloat after all this unmanned time, then it even more suspicious as to why it was abdndoned. The circumstsnces are suspect wo casting aspersions on the orig crew. Noone likes being lied too as to circumstances or to make things look worse so they can possibly write a book or get their 15 mins of fame. Its looks like bs to me.

  4. David

    your article is very refreshing,after following the uncalled for criticism and cruel comments on a sailing blog have to finally stop reading as started to feel both anger and nausea.
    Never understood so much hatred.
    Thank you again

  5. HappySkipper

    While there is a lot of speculation surrounding the travails of the sea Nymph and her crew, one thing is now certain: the Sea Nymph was in no danger of sinking back in October! I hope someone mansges to salvage her.

  6. ric olivera

    well, maybe she’s taking in water because she’s been abandoned and had to cope with every darn storm ever since, taking in rain and waves as they came. maybe the hull is not damaged, and simply pumping out the water can bring her back to life before “succumbing to Dave Jones’ locker”. she’s still there.

  7. Paul Handel

    Charles, your comments are very much spot on! Today vitriol, invective, and derision have become the standard response to those we either don’t agree with or don’t square with our cause celebre. Unless we were there or actively participated in what transpired perhaps a sense of humility and compassion would be more appropriate. And more importantly learn as best we can from what happened. To sailers everywhere, good will and God speed on our voyages.

  8. Anton

    Just a heads up, Charles…the video from Wavetrain didn’t make it to the post. I did click through to your site to view the video. I’m in agreement that Sea Nymph is taking on water, and will soon succumb to Davey Jones’ locker.

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