Most of our readers , especially in Palma, will know or will have heard of Bobby Cooper, previously manager of Boatyard Palma, and subsequently Varadero Ibiza and Valencia.
Many of you will have read recently about the sad incident where Bobby Cooper and family have lost everything , when their 50 ft Catamaran hit a submerged reef in the South Pacific.
Bobby Cooper, 51, and his family were on board their 50ft catamaran, Avanti, battling 40mph winds and high waves when the vessel smashed into Beveridge Reef, 150 miles from the tiny mid-Pacific island state of Niue.
“It was fairly interesting. We surfed onto the reef. Bit of a navigation error. It was very violent and we grounded. We were then being hit by subsequent waves as they came over us,” Mr Cooper, from Stirling, told The Times by satellite phone from the rescue yacht.
He said their catamaran hit the reef at 4am while his children, Lauren, 13, and Robbie, 11, were sleeping. Mr Cooper said his GPS navigation system had not picked up the reef — a submerged atoll — that lay in their path and it came as a “complete surprise”. He said he and his wife, Cheryl, scrambled to get the children from their bunks and up on deck.
“The waves were breaking over our stern. We got the kids up. We put them to the task of collecting whatever things they required and we assessed our situation,” said Mr Cooper, a highly experienced captain who has made at least 15 Atlantic crossings on yachts.
“We realised the boat was not sinking and that the best place to be was on board. We sat it out until the waves pushed us far enough on to the reef to be away from the breakers,” he said. The couple activated a distress beacon that sent exact details of their location by satellite to New Zealand’s ocean marine rescue centre 1,500 miles to the south.
The message was picked up by a 60ft New Zealand-registered sailing boat the Dona Catharina, which itself had suffered storm damage. Amazingly, she was within two kilometres of the grounded Avanti. “If they hadn’t been there, we’d be sitting in a liferaft right now, trying to keep warm and dry,” Mr Cooper said.
With the help of the Dona Catharina’s seven crew, he has dislodged his catamaran and anchored it in calmer waters inside the lagoon at the reef.
Bobby was a very experienced skipper, and there are very few people on the planet who know as much about boats in general as Bobby. He was travelling with his wife and two kids, aged 10 and 13.
Some very well known yachtsmen/women have given their support to Bobby : Tracey Edwards MBE said “Bobby is at the top end of the scale when it comes to sailing abilities and skills. He is one of the old school with an eye for detail, care for his boat and crew and extremely knowledgeable in arts of sailing that are being lost in time”
Matt Knight who runs a surf exploration catamaran in the North Atlantic said: “By the time I was first cutting my teeth as a deckhand in the mid 1980s, Bobby was already a legend. His natural talent and quick thinking meant that he became one of the youngest skippers on the professional sailing circuit. I worked under him in the Caribbean and later we spent months at sea together in the Red Sea & Indian Ocean, navigating through some of the most remote coral atolls in the world. Bob is the most naturally gifted sailor & skipper I have worked with and knows boats inside & out”
A Crowd Funding appeal has been set up by Patrick Whetter a former Palma colleague and friend, who is also in the midst of a circumnavigation on his Cat with his wife.
People can donate to help get them on their feet again after their tragic loss.
The page to donate is : www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/patrickanna-whetter-1