I Lost Everything: Captain Sinzel

German national and captain of Sy Pantagruel, Michael Sinzel tells of Cyclone Yasa ordeal for 6 at Qilaqila Bay, Vanuabalavu.
28 Dec 2020 15:35
I Lost Everything: Captain Sinzel
The sunken yacht Sy Pantagruel at Qilaqila Bay in Vanuabalavu, Lau. Photo: Kelera Sovasiga

German national and captain of Sy Pantagruel, Michael Sinzel, is distraught after his yacht took an unexpected dive while anchored at Qilaqila Bay in Vanuabalavu, Lau, during Tropical Cyclone Yasa last Thursday morning.

The 57-year-old had been sailing around Fiji since June this year with five young travelers in their mid-20s who were from America and Sweden.

“I lost everything, everything I own was on the boat,” Mr Sinzel said.

“We had spent a week sailing in Fulaga when we received information about the cyclone so the best place for us was to anchor at Qilaqila Bay for a few days till the cyclone passes.

“By Wednesday mid-day we were there, we tied the boat to the rocks, put the sails down, secured everything and anchored there.”

Unfortunately, Mr Sinzel and his crew were not prepared when a few of the ropes snapped at around 4:30am on Thursday during the strong winds.

“It was pitch dark, I could hear the ropes that we had tied from the boat to the rocks breaking and there was nothing we could do because everything just happened so quickly,” he said.

Mr Sinzel immediately gave a distress call to a friend in Vuda Mariner, who then made calls to the relevant authorities.

“The high tide had started to rise and because one side of the yacht was under the rocks in that earlier hours of the morning, it hit the rocks and water started coming in so quickly that it just went under,” he said.

Rescuer, Ilisoni Duruwaqa of Malaka Village, was the first responder to the scene.

“The Police corporal came to my home and informed me of what happened and immediately we got in my boat and head out to the bay,” he said.

“By the time we reached them, the yacht was already under water and the six crew members were on the rocks calling out for help.

“We had our diving equipment and were able to get out a few of their belongings but it is ruined.”

The crew were taken to the nearest hospital to be examined. Fortunately, no one was hurt.




Photos sourced from the Blog post by Michael Sinzel: Sinking of Sy Pantagruel

Mr Sinzel thanked the people of Vanuabalavu for their kind hospitality in taking care of the crew.

“We stayed at the Police quarters at Delana and we were looked after very well,” he said.

The five crew members have returned to Suva while Mr Sinzel is waiting for the Dive Fiji company to come and salvage his boat today.

“I have insurance that will pay for the salvage of the boat and hopefully in a week’s time the boat will float again and be towed to Vuda for repair works,” Mr Sinzel said.

“I wish to also apologise to the leaders of Daliconi Village because I did not inform them of my anchor at Qilaqila Bay.

“I was going to when the strong winds changed direction, but I will go to them later in the week to seek forgiveness.”




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