Yachtie sells cheap, quits country then disappears

Friday February 10, 2017 Written by Published in Local
The Zangano sits at the wharf in Avatiu. 17020918 The Zangano sits at the wharf in Avatiu. 17020918

Accident-prone yachtie Alex Roehrs has sold his ketch Zangano for the price of an airline ticket and a night’s accommodation and has flown off Rarotonga.

But mystery now surrounds his destination and his whereabouts.

Roehrs sold the 54-foot steel-hulled yacht soon after being towed back to Avatiu harbour by the police patrol boat Te Kukupa last week. He had issued a distress call when he was 20 nautical miles north of Rarotonga, saying his yacht was sinking.

When the Kukupa arrived at the scene Roehrs, a Chilean-born Australian national, said he was happy for police to let the yacht go under. He is said to have told them it was not worth saving.

Police are believed to have ignored that suggestion and used a hand pump to reduce the water inside the vessel, before towing it back to port, where Puaikura volunteer firemen used a mechanical pump to finish the job. A fireman told the CI news the water was up to the bench-plates in the galley.

He said a cut hose in the forward toilet was allowing water into the Zangano and he found another open sea-cock near the engine that was sending seawater into the bilge.

In his view Roehrs had been trying to sink his yacht, which is said to have been uninsured.

Yesterday the new owner of Zangano, Keith Christian, said the hose in the toilet had definitely been cut.

And Christian told CI News there was little or no damage to the boat’s rudder, as Roehrs had claimed to police when he made the PAN-PAN emergency call.

Christian said Roehrs’ last trip on the Zangano was pretty dubious.

“He had no food when he left. All that was on board were two apples and three bananas. There was nothing in the freezer, which was working, and no water when he took it out to sink it.

“The boat may have water, but you always need it in bottles as well. That’s in case you need to get in the liferaft. That will keep you alive.

“He wasn’t prepared to go at all.”

And Christian said the Zangano’s main sail had not been used. “He motored out for 25 miles. The sail was all wrapped up and couldn’t be undone.

“The mizzen hasn’t been unrolled and with the head sail it’s hard to tell, but it looked like it hadn’t been used. The main sail definitely hadn’t.”

He said that raised questions. “There’s no way, if you are on a sinking boat, that you are going to go along and fold the sails up and put the cover on them are you?

“That’s the least of your worries.”

He said the hose in the forward toilet had definitely been cut, but he had fixed a small leak around the rudder with a grease gun and “there’s no water coming in there at all”.

Christian said he bought Roehrs a ticket from here to New Zealand and on to Santiago, Chile, in exchange for the Zangano.

“But he went straight down the road and changed his ticket.

“We bought him a flight on Air New Zealand, but he changed flights from here to Auckland.

He upgraded his ticket. He may not have gone to Auckland. He could have changed his ticket for anywhere.”

Roehrs has two passports - an Australian one and a Chilean document.

Christian said: “He’s rich and now he is somewhere around the world. He’s anywhere now. I don’t think he went to Chile.”

He added: “As soon as he was towed in he sat on the wharf talking to someone about insurance.”

“He said ‘I’ve been on my boat and my boat’s sunk.’.”

The Zangano is up for sale with a price tag of $25,000.

Christian said: “The hull is perfect … it’s a good boat.

“It would fly through a survey. It would be a real bargain for someone.” 

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