Tragic Death of Young Researcher

Earlier this month the sailing world has suffered a sad loss through the death of Sara King, a young British eco-activist. The catamaran which she was on started taking in water in bad weather just off the east coast of South Africa when she drowned.

A Research Expedition Gone Wrong

In June, King left the Cape Town harbour together with her fiancée, James Elsworth, as well as another friend, James Baker and the group’s dog, Dax, on their catamaran known as Danzig. Their goal was to sail along the African coast towards the southwest coast of Madagascar as a joint research expedition with the University of Birmingham on microplastics in the oceans. After being delayed in East London, they finally set sail at the end of June towards Madagascar. Although the weather forecast did predict a stormy leg ahead of them, they already were running late and proceeded. The rainy weather turned out to be worse than expected, and the hulk of their catamaran got damaged and started to take in water. All their efforts to return to land were unsuccessful, and then tragedy struck when their catamaran capsized.

A Container Ship to the Rescue

When emergency calls came in, the Maritime Coordination Centre requested the assistance of a nearby container ship to divert course to assist them. The Malta-registered container ship was on its way to Singapore when they noticed the catamaran in distress. Since the hull of the 48ft catamaran took in water, it was partially submerged.

The container ship managed to retrieve the two men and the woman as well as their dog. King was unfortunately already unconscious by the time when their lifeboat reached the container ship. Their ship’s medical personnel tried to retrieve her upon arrival, but sadly, she passed away. The next day a joint operation between the SAPS, Netcare and the NSRI went to retrieve the two men and their dog as well as the body of the deceased young women. Their vessel was found about ten nautical miles from the shore.

Sara King

Sara King was an eco-researcher from Britain. She was 34 years old at the time of her death. Currently, it is assumed that she might have gotten trapped underneath the catamaran when it capsized. King has been co-founder to the company, Evolve Abroad. They were involved in providing training in marine biology to find solutions for the future. Part of this training was to offer trips for research. The South African government offered their support and condolences to her family in Britain. The two men who were rescued were both from South Africa.