French Polynesia, Tuamotus: Skipper Found Dead aboard Grounded Sloop

July 13, 2016 – Takapoto, Tuamotus, French Polynesia (reported by Latitude 38) – The South Pacific cruising community was stunned to learn that one of its own, singlehander Lewis Schooler, 64, had been found dead aboard the San Diego-based Hylas 42 “Entertainer”, which had grounded on Takapoto Atoll in French Polynesia’s Tuamotu archipelago just over one week ago.

Published 8 years ago, updated 5 years ago

General French Polynesia photo courtesy of SY Domino

See full report by Latitude 38 here.

Lying roughly 300 miles northeast of Tahiti, the 6-mile-long atoll is normally one of the first to be passed by cruisers en route from the Marquesas to the Tuamotus or Society Islands.

According to contacts in Tahiti, an investigation into Schooler’s death is ongoing, and details about the incident are still sketchy. It is known, however, that a search was instituted by MRCC Papeete (Maritime Rescue Coordination Center), after Schooler’s wife became concerned because Louis had not checked in for five days. The solo sailor had recently completed the 3,500-mile crossing from San Diego to the Marquesas.

An autopsy has been, or is being, performed on the deceased sailor, which should shed light on the question of whether he died prior to Entertainer’s grounding on the reef.

Despite the inherent dangers in crossing thousands of miles of open water, we can recall only one other fatality during the 20 years that we have been reporting extensively on the annual westward migration of cruisers that we call the Pacific Puddle Jump. That sad case also involved a singlehander who apparently fell overboard during a short crossing between Marquesan islands. This year’s fleet suffered a previous loss: As reported here, in early May the Alaska-based Amel 46 ketch Morning Dove grounded on a Tuamotu reef while in transit between Apataki atoll and Rangiroa. Thankfully, all aboard escaped without injury.

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