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Catamaran founders off Phuket, passengers saved



PHUKET: Heavy seas off Phuket over the weekend swamped a German man’s sailboat and prompted a dramatic rescue of his three Thai passengers off Mai Thon Island yesterday.

German sailor Paul Zicman, 68, invited 34-year-old friend Thewarat Kongmuang and her two daughters aboard his catamaran Blue Lagoon for a trip to Koh Khai on Saturday afternoon.

The four set sail from Chalong Bay at about 3pm and tethered to a mooring off Mai Thon Island as night set in.

A squall that hit at about 2am ripped the vessel from the mooring, swamping it and setting it adrift into the rocky shore of the island.

The entire bottom deck of Blue Lagoon was swamped and waves washed telecommunications equipment and important documents into the sea. Both of Blue Lagoon‘s engines were rendered inoperable, leaving the catamaran at the mercy of the sea.

After a harrowing night of almost constant bailing, Ms Thewarat of Chalong and her two daughters, Jennifer Misch, 10, and Nathaly Misch, eight, managed to contact a friend in Phuket and apprise them of their situation.

The rescue was carried out by a speedboat dispatched from the Phuket Provincial Administration Organization’s Phuket Tourist Rescue Center at Chalong Pier.

The elderly German sailor told rescuers he wanted to stay with the vessel and salvage it as best he could. He estimated the damage to the catamaran at 10 million baht.

According to an advisory issued yesterday by the Thai Meteorological Department’s Southern Meteorological Center (West Coast) at Phuket Airport, strong monsoon conditions persist over the Andaman Sea, where wave heights remain at two to four meters.

All small craft are advised to stay in port and shipping should proceed with caution. The advisory covers all six Andaman Coast provinces: Ranong, Phang Nga, Phuket, Krabi, Trang and Satun.

— Warisa Temram


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