On September 25th of this year and during a crossing from Hawaii to the mainland, Moli and I discovered an abandoned yacht named Wavesweeper at a position roughly 600 miles west of the Oregon and California border. Such a find can be soul-rattling, as I reported on this site that same afternoon.
After the there-but-for-the-grace-of-god-go-I feeling subsides, one is left with an interesting mystery whose key questions are
What We Know
The day after my initial post on the Wavesweeper find, the story was picked up by 48 North, the sailing magazine for the Pacific Northwest, and run with a query to the community for more information on this Vancouver-based boat. The query netted two reports: a back-page article in West Coast Sailors, the newsletter for the Sailor’s Union of the Pacific, which detailed a tricky and successful water-drop for Wavesweeper by container ship APL Singapore on July 15, 2016 (link/PDF); and a press release from the Coast Guard summarizing the rescue of Wavesweeper’s owner by the container ship OOCL Utah on July 19, 2016 (link/PDF).
Other information gleaned from the community included the vessel’s build and rough itinerary.
A summary of the facts is as follows:
To sum up, Wavesweeper departs San Blas for Hawaii sometime after late April, receives a water drop from the APL Singapore on July 15th while enroute Vancouver and is abandoned when her owner is rescued by OOCL Utah on July 19th.
Note that this information answers none of the key questions listed above, save some portion of the first.
My discovery of Wavesweeper on September 25th came 68 days after her abandonment. I would never have guessed this as I drifted nearby, awaiting word from the Coast Guard. In fact, what made my heart pound was how fresh the scene appeared to be. There was no sign of weed on the hull, no dark scum marks on the top-side, no bird droppings on the deck. Most tellingly, she floated on her lines. Only her sails, jib in tatters and main down, boom end dragging in the water, suggested something terrible had occurred.
Why Wavesweeper had been abandoned was not obvious.
What the Photographs Show
Once home, I took a closer look at the photos from that day and made the following discoveries.
Any self-respecting detective would have to admit that abandoned Wavesweeper offers a goodly number of clues with which to solve the case, but which of these is the smoking gun?
In the next post I’ll attempt to reconstruct a chain of events …