Contributed by: Don WinnerBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - I just learned an experienced sailor - Tomasz "Tom" Lewandowski - died aboard his sailboat the "Luka" last night near Isla Grande off of the Caribbean coast of the Republic of Panama. Tom and his wife Beata were returning to Panama with four passengers aboard from Cartagena. They lost their steering sometime after midnight and called for help. In the excitement Tom apparently had a heart attack and died. He had recently been diagnosed in Cartagena, Colombia as having an artery in his heart that was 99% blocked. Tom was planning to fly back to his native Poland to have an operation done to fix the blockage. He was 52 years old. The Panamanian authorities responded to recover his body. Friends are now helping to get the stricken Mikado 56 "Luka" back to Portobelo.
Tom was widely regarded as an excellent sailor and an all around good guy. He is in the Guinness World Record Book as the last person to sail around the world, nonstop, Westbound, solo. Basically that's doing it "the wrong way" and against the prevailing winds. Tom knew what he was doing with a sailboat. Our condolences to his friends and family.
"Fritz The Cat" Sinks Near Cartagena: I also learned another backpacker sailboat - "Fritz the Cat" - sank on Monday, 2 July 2012 about 45 miles off the coast of Cartagena, Colombia. According to first hand reports, they were navigating through 3 meter seas when some kind of a hole developed in the hull. It's possible the damage developed near the engine, and it's suspected maybe the engine might have broken loose from its mounts in the rough seas, because the water was entering from that area. The crew issued a Mayday call and abandoned ship. Another vessel in the area put out a call to the Colombian Coast Guard via satellite telephone.
There were a total of 16 people aboard the vessel between crew and paying passengers - five Australians, three Germans, three Americans, two Norwegians, one Panamanian, one Dutch and one Polish citizen. They were all able to fit into the emergency life raft that was designed for 24 people. They were initially picked up by a tanker ship that was in the area, and later were transferred to a patrol craft of the Colombian Coast Guard, and taken to Cartagena.
Copyright 2012 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.