(L-R) Scott and Jean Adams were attacked, captured, terrorized and killed by Somali pirates aboard their 58 foot vessel Quest
The sad facts: on Friday, February 18, a mother ship approached the S/V Quest 250, which was on its way from India to Salalah, Oman to join a convoy to transit the dreaded Gulf of Aden. Aboard were owners Jean and Scott Adam, and two friends named Phyllis Macay and Bob Riggle. The mother ship launched a small pirate vessel, and Quest sent a MAYDAY as the pirated approached. The crew of Quest was attacked and captured. Nineteen pirates flooded aboard. The pirates changed Quest's course and headed for Somali with their prize and hostages. US Naval warships began to shadow them, and negotiations were begun. The navy invited two of the pirates aboard the Sterett. These pirates did not appear to be 'serious' about negotiating' (according to the trained negotiators) and were detained. They were expected back aboard the Quest, but never returned or communicated with their fellow pirates again.
On Monday morning at 8 AM, the leaderless pirates (who were showing signs of confusion but not being threatening) launched a shoulder rocket at the Sterett just a few hundred yards away. It missed.
Then the sound of gun fire was heard from inside the Quest. Numerous shots were heard.
US Naval personal immediately deployed in a desperate bit to save the hostages. They killed two pirates while clearing the cabin.
All four of the crew/hostages had been shot. Some were still alive but died before further medical help could arrive.
Strangely (or tellingly), there were two dead pirates aboard the Quest which were killed prior to the Naval force arriving boarding. Thus, those pirates probably were killed by the other pirates... bickering about tactics, reward, or whatever.
Jean and Scott Adam, the owners were killed, and their two friend Phyllis Macay and Bob Riggle.
That's the basic facts as we know them on February 24, 2011.
Jean and Scott of Quest
Jean and Scott of Quest
Soon thereafter I wrote this on Facebook...
We met Jean and Scott in New Zealand in 2006. They were very knowledgeable, very experienced sailors. Quest was built for them in NZ, and they shook her down by circling South Island--which is a very rough place. They really knew what they were doing. They weren't just boaters, they were superb seaman and wonderful, caring people who always wore a smile and had something nice to say.
"...we feel like we know you and Carolyn because we've been reading you so long in Cruising World," was one of the first things they said to us.
I am saddened by their deaths, and the deaths of their two crew--also experienced sailors who'd previously circumnavigated.
My heat-felt condolence to their families.
I've now talked with probably a dozen folks who have interacted with the Somali pirates. All say the same thing--they are mostly barefoot teenagers, led by 20-somethings. All are high on the drug Khat. Life means little to them.
I transited this area last year, as described in my book RED SEA RUN. I've been in contact with numerous yachts planning to transit the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea this year.
I told them that I thought it was easier and simpler and less stressful to round the Cape of Storms rather then deal with both the Somali pirates and the thugs of Egypt.
But I also told them that, if they feared the heavy weather off South Africa, to keep coming. I believed that there was very little chance of getting pirated--and if you were, it would probably end non-violently.
Obviously, this was not the case re: Quest.
In the case of Quest, I was very, very wrong.
The world today is different than the world of yesterday. Perhaps we're heading into a dark era... where the 'freedom of the seas' will become a thing of the past.
The pirates are making millions of dollars every MONTH. Two tankers were seized last week. And a reported 9.5 million dollars was paid for the return of a single ship.
The situation is spinning out of control rapidly. First, there were a few "pirates of opportunity." Then a few dedicated pirates. Then a dozen. Then hundreds. Now thousands of people are engaged in piracy in Somalia. It is completely wide open... far more brazen than Nassau back in the days of yore.
Every day they collect millions of dollars. And, they're now using mother ships and sophisticated captured craft... ships with AIS, radar, Sat Phones, and the Internet... the very same technology which makes offshore navigation so easy... makes it easy for the pirates to find their prey.
It was obvious to Carolyn and I as we transited the Gulf of Aden that the main emphasis was deterring the pirates from capturing ships... not catching them. We heard numerous 'incidents' on our short range VHF... and not once did the American and NATO forces in the area pursue the pirates. Not once. They merely arrived on the scene and made sure the ship was safe.
Thus, there was no penalty. There was no risk.
We knew the exact lat/long of a pirate boat with seven pirates and a long extension ladder which was waiting patiently for a ship to attack... for FIVE DAYS before a ship DID stumble by and they DID attack it!
How is that possible, in this day and age?
They aren't the least bit worried of being caught or punished. When they towed our friends Jurgen and Sabine Kantner from Yemen to Somali... they laughed when Jurgen asked if they were worried about being caught. "No problem," they said, and went back to ripping out his interior to make fires on deck to cook the fish they caught....
The pirates are in no danger before they attack. If they attack and are successful, they aren't in any danger because they have hostages.
The only time they are in danger is when they attacked--which, since they were attacking defenseless vessels, only lasted minutes or even seconds.
There was a lot of development and talk of 'safe rooms' which, while interesting and effective, does not apply to yachts.
Numerous times... perhaps hundreds of times... warships have boarded pirate vessels which they KNOW are pirate vessels... but released them.
...this is actually fun for the pirates: they get a medical check, a meal, some provisions, and at least once, additional fuel and an outboard repair.
I suppose everyone saw the wide, happy smile the pirate who was just sentenced to 30 years in jail had on his face after his trial.
I'm sure he never, in his wildest dreams, imagined such a posh retirement.
It's a crazy world.
These pirates are the rock stars and movie stars of Somalia--they are the heroes of young, the local 'astronauts,' if you will.
What to do?
Of course, it is impossible to patrol the entire Indian ocean.
However, it is NOT impossible to patrol the coastline.
One idea is to, after much notice, only allow 'certified' vessels with large numbers on their cabin house to put to sea from Somalia. All others will be sunk from the air.
This is do-able. However, it would undoubtedly cause far more starvation of innocents.
Entire villages have sprung up to which serve the pirates--surely these can, with advance notice, be made, er, non-functional.
RE: the specifics of the situation during which the crew of the Quest lost their lives. All the facts aren't in yet. But it makes no sense to kill all the hostages... even teenagers high on Khat aren't that dumb.
One scenario is: 1.) the pirates are nervous, 2.) there is arguing among the pirates, 3.) one of the hotheads fires the shoulder rocket at the US Naval vessel, 4.) this causes gun fire amongst the pirates, 5.) the navy hears the shots, 6.) launches its rescue effort, 7.) which is perceived as an attack by the pirates, 8.) and, panicked, they start shooting at the navy, each other, and the hostages.
It much have been absolutely horrible for Jean and Scott and their friends.
I can't even think about it... HORRIBLE!
Of course, I have no idea what happened. Perhaps some horrible pirate just blew them away on a whim. But there were two dead pirates aboard when the navy arrived... who and why and how were they killed?
Of course, it doesn't matter to Jean and Scott and their friends. They're dead. Forever.
...may they rest in peace
PS. There is something called the freedom of the seas. This means that everyone has the right to transit the world's oceans. This is a very important concept. Most major cities in the world today have far more criminals than the Indian ocean. Please don't blame Jean and Scott for exercising these precious rights. They died doing what they wanted to do. They were sea gypsies. They knew the risks--and yet their lived their dreams.
...most people never do.
I admired them when they were alive. I still admire them in death.
Cap'n Fatty, in Amsterdam.
Also murdered aboard Quest was Phyllis Macay and Bob Riggle who had previously circumnavigated aboard a different vessel and were good friends of Jean and Scott.
Later I wrote this on my FACEBOOK page:
The photo is NOT of Quest or its crew, but rather a different yacht (French, I think) which shows how horrible it must be to in pirate hands....
This is the Chandlers. They spent more than a year in captivity in Somali
This is our friends Sabine Merz and Jurgen Kantner of the steel sloop Rockall. They spent 52 days in captavity, and their captives repeatedly argued among themselves (in front of them) if and when they should be killed.
This pirate was sentences to 30 years, and grinned widely afterwards for the media. I'm sure, never in his widest dreams, did he envision such a plush retirement.
Tags: Somali pirates, pirates, Gulf of Aden, transit, Red Sea, high seas murder, Red Sea Run, Fatty Goodlander, Cruising World, All at Sea, yacht security, convoy, vessel protection, crime at sea, murder, kidnapping, hostages, Indian Ocean, offshore, killing, cruising, sailing, circumnavigating, Chasing the Horizon, Wild Card, inkslinger, sea gypsy, dirt dweller, Cap'n Fatty...
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