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Whale ends ’round the world sailing voyage, 900 miles from its end

Sailing, San Diego, California

Max Young, 67, of Natomas, California had dreamed to sail around the world. After 12 years of sailing, and only 900 miles from his final port, Young’s dream was crushed when a whale did the same to his 50-foot single-masted sailboat about 40 miles west of La Playa, Mexico, yesterday. The collision with the leviathan destroyed the boat’s rudder and punched a hole in the vessel.

The former Antioch high school teacher actuated an emergency beacon, which was detected by the U.S. Coast Guard. In turn, the Coast Guard directed a merchant ship to the damaged sailboat, 60 miles and five hours away! Young pulled himself up a rope ladder on the merchant ship and was on the vessel today, headed to Panama, and lucky to be alive. According to the Sacramento Bee’s account from Young’s wife:

”They called and asked me if he was really out there,” said Debra Young, a business owner. “He had left Cabo San Lucas Sunday morning and the boat travels about 125-150 miles per day so he should have been halfway to San Diego.”

“He was out there waiting to be rescued from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. while the sailboat was sinking,” she said. “He was trying to bail it out but the whale knocked a pretty good hole in it.”

Young began his around the world voyage in May of 2000 after he retired from teaching, the first time. The voyage took longer than expected because the Youngs had to stop sailing to work in order to finance the rest of the trip.

Along the way, Young, sometimes accompanied by his wife, sailed to Hawaii, Tahiti, Western Samoa, Tonga, Fiji and Australia.

The boat stayed in Australia for three or four years before a different crew sailed to Malaysia. From there it went for a long stay in Thailand, where the boat was out of the water at the time of the tsunami.

Young then sailed to the Red Sea, through the Suez Canal and into the Mediterranean. He kept the boat in Turkey for a couple of years and in Rome a year.

After Young crossed the Atlantic, the sailboat was kept in South Carolina for the last 2 1/2 years. Last month Debra Young joined her husband in Panama and sailed the Panama Canal. She had gotten off the boat in Mexico, shortly before the collision with the whale.

-Bill at

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