BLAISE HOPKINSON reports on the catamaran that went missing in January between Cape Town and Phuket
Latest Update: TUI Marine continues to evade liability for the obvious death of three yachtsmen on the delivery of their new boat from Cape Town. See their latest statement (below) which Blaise Hopkinson describes as “corporate arse covering”. He writes:
“TUI’s PR chose to evade all questions, such as what they will do if they find bodies on board and in what jurisdiction they would have their post mortems. Instead, the paid corporate obfuscater chose to insult this journalist by saying she didn’t ‘trust him and would therefore be unable to answer his questions’.
“This from the world’s biggest travel company, which must also be responsible for the most injuries and deaths of tourists in proportion to their size!
“TUI is listed on stock exchanges and therefore won’t want their shareholders to know they send yachtsmen to their deaths, not to mention others to Tunisia, the most dangerous country on earth for beach goers.
“There is no doubt the missing yacht should not have been at sea in those conditions, in spite of its quality. The blame lies with numerous people, including the pr.”
These are the questions TUI refuses to answer:
- If the boat is found and bodies are found aboard, under what jurisdiction will the post mortems be conducted?
- Will the family members be notified if bodies are recovered?
- How will TUI Marine compensate the families for causing the death of their loved ones?
- Will TUI Marine suspend the deliveries of these unsafe craft, or will you continue to take the cheapest option?
- Why did TUI Marine not react immediately when the wreck was first spotted and photographed six weeks ago?
- How much is the search costing? How much did TUI pay for the boat in the first place?
- Is TUI Marine going to pay compensation voluntarily or will there have to be a lawsuit?
Story: Three South African yacht crew are missing and may now be presumed dead, this, six months after they left the tranquil climes of the V&A marina in Cape Town’s Waterfront on a 44-foot catamaran more specifically designed for bobbing about on azure tropical seas than facing treacherous cyclones and typhoons in the high seas to Phuket, Thailand.
The upturned hull has been sighted twice, hundreds of miles off Mauritius, yet so far giant $10bn travel monolith TUI have found neither the missing cat, nor the hapless crew.
The crew of the Sunsail Leopard 44 catamaran (main image) – Anthony Murray (58), Reg Robertson (59) and Jaryd Payne (20) – was last heard from on January 18. They called home on a satellite phone, and that was the last contact.
The families reported them missing in February, although TUI Marine subsidiary Sunsail claims they did this, a claim disputed by the families. From the outset TUI has been reticent, no doubt fearing a multi-million dollar compensation claim, although nobody can confirm who owned the boat officially when it was wrecked.
The boat was built by Robertson and Caine of Cape Town, who referred all questions to TUI’s “go between” in the UK. It is part of an ongoing contract for the craft with TUI. Cape Town yacht builders are far cheaper than their counterparts in the US or Europe, which is why so many such boats are built in SA and then transported or delivered to their buyers overseas.
The tragic rand plays an enormous part in the equations because the boats are cheap if made in SA. There is no question that they are of optimum quality, but their designs are for a purpose – floating hotel rooms with en-suite bimini platforms.
The $500-600,000 yacht, a floating caravan with all the mod cons, is one of a huge fleet of similar craft that are used in the lucrative yacht charter business in Phuket and around the world.
The families – NOT TUI it must be noted – have made incredible efforts from crowd funding to search using satellite technology sites, but after half a year it is clear their loved ones are not coming home.
Some are suggesting that TUI might not want to find the stricken vessel, because if there are broken skeletons aboard they will be in it for millions. Without bodies or a cause of the disaster the monolith can avoid any lawsuits that might be brought in any number of jurisdictions.
The human tragedy is paramount, but now the disaster has loped into the money stage, and TUI has plenty. Will they make sure this one goes away, just like the sad Leopard 44, now an inconvenient spot on the ocean?
- Click here for latest update from Sunsail