A Sailboat Hits the Reef, Sinks
Bad Weather, exhaustion, miscommunication and tricky entrance to Brick Bay made for a disastrous end to the American sailboat ‘Scarlett’ on January 22. The 40 foot Canada Sailcraft built in 1987 was captained by Skipper Ricardo Druillet with his hand Robert Ader of Miami. After departing Colon, Panama two days earlier and heading for Jamaica, the sailors battled tough weather and 10 foot seas and decided to reroute their journey for Roatan.
The sailors booked a slot at the Barefoot Cay marina, but Adler wrote that they were advised to “anchor outside the channel,” as the boat arrived at 2am. “We offer guidance through the channel entrance 8am to 4pm every day,” wrote Gary Lewis, the General Manager at Barefoot Cay, the largest Roatan marina that hosted over 100 boats in 2017.
My depth finder indicated 30 foot depth and we dropped the anchor,” said Druillet. “Then we got swung around onto the reef.” ‘Scarlett’ ended up on top of the reef just west of Brick Bay channel entrance, in knee high water.
“My depth finder indicated 30 foot depth and we dropped the anchor,” said Druillet. “Then we got swung around onto the reef.” ‘Scarlett’ ended up on top of the reef just west of Brick Bay channel entrance, in knee high water. “There was deeper water inside the boat than out,” said Ader about the couple abandoning the boat at night.
“This is the worse marked entrance [to a harbor] I’ve seen,” said Druillet about the entrance to Brick Bay harbor. Druillet visited dozens of harbors in Mexico and Central America on his “dream trip” which he begun with his wife and son in San Francisco and which took him south to Panama and eventually to Roatan.
According to Nic Bach of Roatan Marine Park [RMP] however, “new channel markers with solar beacons in Brick Bay” were installed about a year ago at a cost of $1,800 provided by Island Shipping. Bach wrote that over the years RMP has placed 90 channel and demarcation markers around Roatan and ZOLITUR is planning to fund another 70 to mark every channel around the island.
While Shawn Hyde negotiated with the San Diego insurance company about the salvaging cost of ‘Scarlett,’ someone boarded the distressed vessel and took much of its equipment. “They took the solar panels, they took everything. Absolutely everything,” said Ader.
Druillet said he purchased the boat for $54,000 and spent additional $40,000 improving it. “Now it’s a total loss and its insured for $65,000,” the skipper said. Druillet, originally from Uruguay, says he has been sailing since the age of 11 and that his grandfather was a founder of “El Yacht Club Uruguayo.”
Salvage master Eulalio ‘Lalo’ Suazo attempted to salvage ‘Scarlett’ on January 25 and 26, but the boat, took on water and sunk in 500 feet of water about 300 meters from the channel.
Brick Bay has claimed its share of unlucky boats over the years. “We did three salvage operations in the last four years in Brick Bay,” said Hyde. “In 2015 a boat was on the way to Barefoot Cay, and complained that its electronic charts were off by 30 feet and it ended up on the reef.”