Remembering Seattle sailors, killed by Somali pirates

Family and friends are grieving the loss of a Seattle couple who were killed as they sailed around the world.  They were captured by Somali pirates, along with another couple from California. 

Walter Friesen  knew them.  He's a member of the Seattle Singles Yacht Club, where the deceased couple met. 

He spoke with KPLU from his mobile phone as he looked at the online journal of Phyllis Macay

"She's one of these people that always has a smile on her face and she always wears outrageous costumes at the Halloween parties," Friesen said as he was still processing the news of his friends' death. "And she's a fabulous cook. And she's just one of the happiest, most exuberant, biggest personalities I've ever met. Just a wonderful woman." Friesen's blog can be found by clicking here.

Macay was sailing with her partner, Bob Riggle. Both were semi-retired and doing a kind of hitch-hiking at high sea, sailing around the world on a three-year voyage. 

Macay and Riggle had just joined up with Californians Scott and Jean Adam after a race in India. The foursome sailed from Mumbai to Oman, and they were hijacked off the coast of Oman -- far from Somalia. A relative of Macay's says the sailors had gotten reports of pirate activity in the area, but thought they were far enough off-shore to avoid danger.

Riggle was known at the yacht club to be a very competent sailor. Neither he nor Macay were interested in the missionary work being done by the couple the met up with in San Diego. But they were mission-driven -- here's Macay's mission statement (from her blog.)

Two days before the hijacking, a New York court sentenced a pirate to 33 years in prison for the 2009 attack on the Maersk Alabama, a U.S. cargo vessel. A pirate in Somalia told the AP last week that pirates were more likely to attack Americans because of the sentencing. 

 

Additional coverage and background on piracy

Here's the New York Times coverage of the story.

NPR's Planet Money team did a great job reporting about piracy recently, a story reported by Chana Joffe-Walt, followed up by this story: Somali Pirates Take The Money And Run, To Kenya.