Here’s another story. With an open ending.
Our first encounter with Sean Hartel on the yacht “Extreme Snailing” ( a Seidelmann 29) was at Santa Cruz, California one evening in October 2010. They were ferrying friends back and forth to the beach in their 8′ f/g dinghy, loaded to within a few inches of the gunwale. They looked interesting.
Our second encounter with Sean was in Monterey. I was peering around the bay from where we were anchored outside the harbour shortly after dawn. I was probably using binoculars, which is usual. The local CG 40 foot patrol boat left the harbour at high speed , went out about 2 miles , stopped and took a small craft under tow , then returned to the harbour. I recognised the small vessel as the dinghy from “Extreme Snailing”. I waited until a reasonable hour then went over to Extreme Snailing ,which was anchored nearby, to ask if Sean had a dinghy. He looked around, cursed, then accepted a ride into the CG dock to retrieve the skiff.
Ok , no problem. They were leaving Monterey and wanted to stop and anchor for the night rather than going long distances , and maybe do some surfing and exploring. We talked about Pfeiffer Point and what a sketchy place that is to anchor. We (Cor Leonis and Spray Venture ) had anchored there in 1987 and had a fun and interesting time anchored behind a big kelp garden to break the ocean swell. The 2′ beach break was enough for a dinghy pitchpole with all hands.
Sean and his buddy on Extr. Snailing had worse luck there. They arrived , still towing the dinghy with outboard mounted, and ran into difficulty with fouling kelp , followed by a capsized and sinking dinghy. This led to unpowered drifting towards rocks and surf where the decision to cut away the dinghy was made. Fortunately they had another dinghy , a small oval inflatable job with oars adequate for convenient stowing, only.
From Pfeiffer Pt they went to Santa Barbara where the crew was dropped off.
Next time we met Sean, a few days later, was at Smuggler’s Bay on the S end of Santa Cruz Island. We were hunkered down with 2 or 3 other boats to ride out a predicted gale in Santa Barbara Channel. Sean blew in before dusk and anchored a little closer to the beach. He’d had a good sail across the channel and was ecstatic to have figured out how to heave-to, with the help of a sailing textbook. That allowed him to pee , a good thing in a 7 or 8 hour crossing.
The wind really blew the next day. The big CG cutter from Santa Barbara came in to pick up the mooring to be ‘on station’ for the gale. Despite the gale , Sean came over to our boat for a visit in the evening. It was really blowing. We had difficully getting to the boat in our kayak and dinghy earlier in the day. Nearly blown past out west of Anacapa Island.
Sean blew down to our boat at hull speed in his toy dinghy. Hours later he decided to return to his own boat. It was really smoking and whistling. We offered him a place to sleep on our boat. He declined. He got stoked and set off like a Flightless Steamer Duck with those little oars a blur of spray. He made it back to his boat , but we found his lifejacket in our cockpit, forgotten. We returned it next morning , on our way south .
He had told us his story , briefly , that evening. He had spent his life until recently doing freestyle skiing. He was very good at it , and had won many competitions, at national and world venues. He had spent a lot of time helping a friend who had been badly injured , and had some really interesting stories about that. The sailing thing was new , but the attitude was normal for him.
So that was it , we sailed away towards Catalina Island, and he sailed away , planning to sell the boat and return to Tom’s River to work in the family business. Fifteen year plan.
That was October 2010. In August 2011 (like 3 days ago) I received an e-mail enquiry from a fellow , I think in California.
This guy had been night Scuba diving and had found a submerged yacht named “Extreme Snailing”. He googled the name and found our blog , which had mentioned the boat. He wondered if I had the story on the sinking. I wish.
Unfortunately the diver hasn’t responded to my request for more info , like location , depth , and condition of the boat.
I found Sean Hartel’s Facebook page , but he hasn’t responded to my message.
Undoubtedly there is more to this story.
Maybe this posting will elicit a response.