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Marshall Islands: Super Yacht Saves Stranded Cruising Family

By Sue Richards last modified Jul 03, 2008 06:58 AM

Published: 2008-07-03 06:58:21
Countries: Marshall Islands

As reported on

A cruising sailing family stranded aboard their grounded yacht on an atoll in the remote Marshall Islands, were saved last Saturday by the crew of the yacht "Blue Star", owned by Russian-Israeli media tycoon Vladimir Gusinksy.

Reports on Sunday afternoon from Aur Atoll, where the 40-foot yacht "Elsewhere" ran onto a reef while trying to enter the atoll, indicated that the yacht is a total loss.

Gusinsky was on board his luxury power vessel "Blue Star", having left Majuro the previous week for the uninhabited Rongelap Atoll, to enjoy some pleasure diving and fishing. "Blue Star" had stopped briefly at Aur Atoll (90 miles north of Majuro) on its way to Rongelap for Gusinsky to scuba dive. During this stop the crew heard a distress call from yacht "Elsewhere" and went to its rescue, according to officials in Majuro who are monitoring the rescue and attempting to salvage the yacht, which is grounded on a reef shelf.

The "Blue Star" crew rescued "Elsewhere's" American owners, cruisers Matt and Judy Johnston and their grandson Tyler, and then called for a rescue vessel to be sent from Majuro through their shipping agents Pacific International, Inc. (PII). The Johnstons are from Antioch, California.

A rescue vessel arrived in Aur Atoll last Sunday morning to attempt to move Elsewhere off the reef. But reports Sunday afternoon indicated that the yacht was too badly damaged from being pounded on the reef for a day, to be removed.

It appears the U.S. Coast Guard on Saturday also alerted local law enforcement officials that it had picked up a distress signal through an EPIRB, in the vicinity of Aur Atoll.

Gusinsky has become a regular visitor to the Marshall Islands in the past few years and has been talking with officials of the Rongelap Atoll Local Government about resort investments and the possibility of setting up a marine science laboratory on Rongelap, an atoll that in 1954 was engulfed with fallout from Bravo, the biggest hydrogen bomb tested by the U.S. government. Rongelap leaders, with U.S. funding, are cleaning up nuclear residue on the main island of the atoll and rebuilding facilities and housing to accommodate a future return by the island’s exiled residents.

Gusinsky is also currently paying for full scholarships for four Rongelap Islanders to attend college in Israel. Gusinsky established the first independent TV channel in Russia RTVi, in 2001.