The last message from the Fantome to the Miami Beach office, on Oct. 27, said the ship was being buffeted by 115-mph winds and 40-foot waves and listing at a stomach-turning 40 degrees as the hurricane headed straight at it.
Information on the Barefoot Cruise ship which disappeared during Hurricane Mitch with 31 crew members all lost and missing. Efforts of search by Both British and USA Navy’s have resulted in nothing… Where is the large four-mask schooner. What fears did the crew have on the nite of riding the storm.
To start Barefoot Cruise ordered the crew to stay on board the ship when it hurried to Belize City on Oct. 26 to deposit 100 passengers and 10 non-essential crew, as the storm approached.
The schooner sought shelter off the Island of Roatan, off Honduras, Hurricane Mitch had unpredictably changed directions several times and then was heading directly for the Island. That is when the ship tried to escape east which is open seas.
On November 11th, 1998 search was called off by U.S. Coast Guard and the company. All that was found was eight life vest, two life rafts and part of a staircase.
In New Amsterdam, Guyana, home to 11 of the 31 crew members, townspeople held candlelit vigils for a week. British captain Guyan March commanded a crew from Guyana, St. Vincent, Jamaica, Honduras, Antigua, Nicaragua, Panama, St. Lucia, Trinidad and Romania.
Families of sailors who went down with a tall ship lost to Hurricane Mitch are suing its Florida owners, accusing them of sending a low-paid crew on a suicide mission in a bid to save an uninsured vessel. Valued somewhere between $10 to $15 million dollars
Windjammer Barefoot Cruises Inc. of Miami Beach, Fla., state it believed it did everything proper and possible to save the crew and the pride of its fleet, the four-masted, 282-foot Fantome. The company said the 71-year-old ship was self-insured.
At least six suits have been filed across the Caribbean, asking for $1 million for each family. Suits have been filed … from Honduras to Antigua to Guyana and … Jamaica, and there are probably going to be many, many more.
The Fantome, which can accommodate 128 passengers, was built in 1927 for the Duke of Westminster and is among the world’s largest four-masted schooners. Its owners have included the Guinness brewing family and Aristotle Onassis, who purchased the ship as a wedding gift for Prince Rainier and Princess Grace of Monaco but never delivered it because he was not invited to the wedding.
The ship joined the Windjammer family in 1969 and underwent a $6 million renovation.