A Death in the Bahamas - Sail Magazine

A Death in the Bahamas

Laura Zekoll, 46, was lost and is now presumed dead after a Jeanneau 46DS named Rule 62 that was sailing in the Caribbean 1500 rally between Hampton, Virginia, and Tortola, BVI, foundered on a reef in the Bahamas on Saturday, November 13. Details are still sketchy, but the most recent published report has it that
Author:
Publish date:
LauraZekoll.int

Laura Zekoll, 46, was lost and is now presumed dead after a Jeanneau 46DS named Rule 62 that was sailing in the Caribbean 1500 rally between Hampton, Virginia, and Tortola, BVI, foundered on a reef in the Bahamas on Saturday, November 13. Details are still sketchy, but the most recent published report has it that Rule 62 diverted to the Bahamas after Zekoll and another woman aboard became chronically seasick.

Rule 62 was one of 65 boats that departed Hampton in the Caribbean 1500 start on Monday, November 8, which was delayed a week because of Hurricane Tomas. The crew aboard consisted of Zekoll and owners Richard and Debra Ross, all from Atlanta, Georgia, and David Sheppard, of Ellsworth, Maine.

Conditions between Bermuda and the southeast U.S. coast were reportedly strong with a high sea running, and after the start Rule 62, as well as other participants, announced they were diverting to other destinations. By Saturday evening Rule 62 had reached the barrier islands east of Great Abaco Island. The tracking feature on the Caribbean 1500 website shows the boat was headed straight for the North Bar Channel off the north end of Lynyard Cay when for some reason it swerved south and went into the reef instead.

According to 1500 rally organizer Steve Black:

“With great sadness, we report that Rule 62, a Jeanneau 46DS, was swamped while attempting entry into the Bahamas. Richard (Ross) and crew Laura Zekoll were washed overboard and recovered. The life raft was launched. Richard, Debra, Laura, and a fourth crewmember, David Sheppard, entered the life raft with life jackets on and attempted to row it to safety. The life raft subsequently overturned in swells. Richard, Debra, and David were separated from Laura and washed up on the beach.”

The U.S. Coast Guard, the Bahamian Defense Force and the Bahamas Air Sea Rescue Association searched for Zekoll for three days, but with no luck and eventually called off the effort.

Rule62.int

Cruiser bulletin boards across the net have been alive with commentary, and several have strongly criticized the attempt to enter the inlet after dark. Very large swells—conditions described locally in the Abacos as a "rage"—were reportedly running at the time.

Laura Zekoll, by all accounts, was a pretty amazing lady. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution she lost partial use of her right arm in a motorcycle accident at age 16, but overcame this disability to become an avid sailor, hiker, airplane pilot and softball player. She was CEO and founder of a successful computer firm and was active with several non-profit groups.

Earlier this year the World Cruising Club (WCC), which runs the famous ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers) between the Canary Islands and St. Lucia (as well as several other events), announced it would be acquiring Steve Black's Cruising Rally Association, which runs the Caribbean 1500 rally. At a press conference last month, WCC principals Andrew Bishop and Jeremy Wyatt said they would observe the operations of the Caribbean 1500 this year before making any decisions as to changes they might make.

Related

01b_WALKING-KEDGE-OUT-cmykpromo

Getting More Use From Kedge Anchors

If you are cruising, you need at least two anchors on board for the simple reason that you must have a backup. Imagine having to slip your anchor on a stormy night with other boats dragging down on yours, or having your rope rode severed by some unseen underwater obstacle, ...read more

SailAwayCharter

How-to: Navigating on a Bareboat Charter

So you graduated from navigation class where you practiced dead reckoning, doubling the angle on the bow and maybe even celestial nav, and you now feel well prepared for your first charter trip. Well, you won’t be doing any of that on vacation—not past the first day, anyway.Most ...read more

04-Turtle-rescue

Turtle Rescue in the Vic-Maui

Strange and often wonderful things can happen in the course of an offshore sailboat race, and one of the strangest and most wonderful things we’ve heard of recently took place during the 2,300-mile 2018 Vic-Maui race, from Victoria, British Columbia, to Lahaina, Hawaii.It ...read more

dorcap-open-blue

ATN Inc: Dorcap

COOL SLEEPYou’re fast asleep in a snug anchorage, forehatch open to catch the breeze, when you’re rudely awakened by a sneaky rain squall. Now you’re not only awake and wet, you’re sweltering with the hatch closed. Sucks, right? That’s why ATN came up with the Dorcap, an ...read more

HIGH-RES-29312-Tahiti-GSP

Ask Sail: Who has the right-of-way

WHO HAS RIGHT-OF-WAY?Q: I sail in Narragansett Bay, which is a relatively narrow body of water that has upwind boats generally going south and downwind boats generally going north. When sailboats are racing, the starboard tack boat has the right-of-way over the port tack boat, so ...read more

albinheaters

Albin Pump Marine: Marine Water Heaters

IN HOT WATERSweden’s Albin Pump Marine has introduced its line of marine water heaters to the United States. Complete with 130V or 230V AC electric elements, the heaters can be plumbed into the engine cooling system. They feature ceramic-lined cylindrical tanks in 5, 8, 12 and ...read more

03-squalls4

Squall Strategies

Our first encounter with a big squall was sailing from San Diego to Ensenada, Mexico. We left at 0200 to ensure we’d get into Ensenada before our 1300 haulout time. The National Weather Service had forecast consistent 15-20 knot winds from the northwest, which was perfect for the ...read more