Schooner Tho Pa Ga lost; crew rescued

A schooner bound for the Brest 2008 festival sank off the coast of France early on Tuesday morning after crew reported that she was taking on water.

The historic yacht Tho Pa Ga sank after her crew reported seawater coming into the boat – and alerted the French coastguard. Brittany Ferries’ Pont Aven diverted its route to pick up the yacht’s five Spanish crew from a liferaft, in 25-knot winds and four to five metre seas. Subsequently three of the crew were picked up and flown to hospital by a French helicopter.

Measuring 138ft, Tho Pa Ga was well known at the beginning of the last century as a Mediterranean ‘pailebot’ and was used to transport general cargo – sailing between Ibiza, Spain, France and North Africa, and carrying an average of 230 tons of freight per trip. Until 1984, the schooner carried general cargo between the French Caribbean Islands.

The boat was built in 1924 by the shipyard of the Navarro Brothers in Spain and was constructed of pitchpine, cut at the full moon and dried for 30 years in the shade. Her lines, profile and speed have always been envied and admired. This wooden schooner was famous in Western Europe as being the only sailing ship with her cargo hall still in prime condition. Cargo capacity was 100m3, with a cargo hatch that offered an opening of 18m2 on deck and was sealed with the original wooden hatches.

After being converted for the tourist trade, accommodation was for 10 guests in 3 Double cabins, and she had 4 Single berths in the convertible Saloon.

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