Can a ship, boat or plane be cursed? Does it hold its own energy? Can it have some kind of "awareness" upon which it can act, or possibly be occupied by restless energies and spirits that somehow have the ability to manipulate events?
We only have to look at the legend of the alleged cursed James Dean car to begin to question the chain of coincidence.
The demise, abandonment and ultimate destruction of vehicles is an interesting topic. One can refer to luxury ships that have sunk, been left abandoned to rot, or towed away to a scrapper yard to be dismantled, piece by piece, and eventually recycled.
The airplane graveyard located in Arizona is home to acre upon acre of military aircraft. These aircraft were revered in their day and now, they sit pitifully awaiting their final dismantle and obliteration.
Junk yards where cars are piled precariously, one on top of the other. The once beautiful piece of machinery that proudly and smoothly pulled out of the showroom, sleek and modern, turning the heads of all admiring onlookers now rust away. No more the pride and joy of somebody's life, simply an eyesore.
Each one of these mechanical structures must have absorbed so many energies and emotions over their years of service. The places visited, the strong emotions of their passengers. Perhaps it was excitement, enjoyment and pure happiness from thousands of passengers embarking on a luxury cruise liner back in the day. The fear, tension and heartache from WW II bombers as they carried out their brutal air attacks. The possible energy entrapment from the last moments of an ill-fated driver and passengers as their automobile collided with devastating, and fatal, results.
Hocus pocus, weak argument or does it bear some further investigation?
Let me present some facts with regard to a vessel that we were personally wishing to purchase for restoration, renovation and to use as our Explorer ship as part of NEOSTALGIA tm.
R101 Oceanographer was a former NOAA Flagship with an illustrious career spanning over 30 years. An ice-class research vessel whose mission was exploration and discovery for the advancement of world science. Sailing over 2,000,000 nautical miles, she was truly an ambassador of the ocean. She sailed every major ocean throughout her noble career, where she made many goodwill stops during her navigation of the globe.
R101 Oceanographer was the FIRST US government vessel allowed to enter into a port in the People's Republic of China. Other notable achievements were her participation in the BOMEX Study during 1969 and DOMES studies in 1980.
In 1981, NOAA's pride and joy was placed in reserve and upgraded extensively through a major refit. The completion of the upgrades boasted installation of weatherfax, gyro, radar, GPS, salinometer, doppler and much more!
On 8 April, 1986, the grand old girl returned to service - fully loaded with her technologically advanced enhancements.
In 1989, Oceanographer was once again placed in reserve, but later returned to service.
And then ... the end of an era. During the 1990s, the NOAA Fleet modernization program went into effect. It was to be Oceanographer's final disposition with NOAA.
R101 Oceanographer had two twin "sisters". R102 Discoverer (whose post-NOAA days were just as disturbingly similar to Oceanographer, with which I am about to reveal ...) and R103 Malcolm Baldridge.
Above: R102 Discoverer and below R103 Malcolm Baldridge
The three "sisters" (all research vessels) were replaced with NOAAs "Ronald H. Brown". And so began the beginning of the end.
In 1996, R101 Oceanographer was decommissioned and sold to the Kirkland Yacht Club in Washington. Her role a lot less distinguished than the past thirty years of service. Her new role was simply to act as a breakwater. She was renamed "PROTECTOR". And there she sat, tied up to a marina for 8 years.
Then, in August 2005, M/Y PROTECTOR was sold again. This time, the purchaser was G Shipping, Malta. More significantly, Emanuel Garosci - a wealthy hotelier from Italy. Garosci paid $6,500,000 US for the vessel and decided to rename her once again. He chose to call her "SAHARA". Fueled with his plans to convert his new ship into a floating hotel, a luxury cruise ship, Garosci immediately had SAHARA towed to Seattle, WA.
Full of enthusiasm, Garosci purchased a $1,500,000 navigation system for the formerly distinguised dame, and so began the work of quickly stripping out the interior of this historic flagship. Desks were still littered with original documents, files, books and even menus from her days in service in NOAA. An incredible collection of information, data, sentimental objects and memories of bygone days. These articles would have been more fitting in a museum, rather than carelessly treated as trash. As would have the significant "Ship's Bell" l that sadly, has disappeared, too.
The three main people focused on the conversion of SAHARA were Garosci himself - a fit, fun-loving, energetic, healthy, wealthy race car driver and hotelier in his 40s. A beautiful young local woman, Lia Hawkins, also much loved and full of life, was hired initially to work on shore as the ship's purser. Lastly, chief engineer/designer with decades of outstanding experience under his belt - Michael Arthur Church.
Above: Emanuel Garosci, owner of G Shipping, Malta
Above: Lia Hawkins, ship's purser
Above: Mike Church
Physical work had barely started on the conversion of SAHARA .. when tragedy struck and many dreams ended on that fateful day. Lia had moved her office from her on-shore location, onto SAHARA. Enthused and excited about the project, Lia rolled up her sleeves and put on her gloves and immediately began assisting in the tear down of the interior cabins of the vessel.
On October 21, 2010, the first of three lives were to be snatched cruelly away without warning. Lia worked on one of the upper decks, where she was throwing discarded interior components off of the boat and into a dumpster that was positioned decks below, on the port. It is assumed that either the weight, or angle, of one of the objects Lia was launching into the dumpster threw her off balance, or perhaps she got a glove or article of her clothing hooked over the object, but Lia tragically fell from the upper deck.
It is further assumed that this athletic, 33 year old beauty must have hit her head, knocking her unconscious prior to entering the water, where she sadly drowned. Lia was not found immediately but was found later under the dock. A major lawsuit against G Malta Shipping/Emanuel Garosci ensued.
During the lawsuit, it was determined that billionaire owner of G Malta Shipping, Emanuel Garosci, had inadequate (if any) insurance on M/Y SAHARA and it was established that no health and safety measures were in place at the time of Lia's death.
M/Y SAHARA was impounded by the marshalls and Garosci was arrested in Italy. He was subsequently returned the USA where the lawsuit commenced.
BUT, on June 10, 2011, more tragedy was to follow with the second key member of the SAHARA conversion team. Michael Arthur Church was doing routine work on a tugboat in Seaward, Alaska when a freak accident happened, resulting in Michael also being killed as he fell off of the rigging and broke his neck. The chances of such an experienced mariner losing his life in such a way was unexpected, to say the least.
And now, the really bizarre twist in this terrible chain of "coincidences". On November 10, 2014 (yes, those 10s keep popping up), the seemingly healthy 41 year old Garosci, was participating in a race car rally when he suddenly claimed that he "felt unwell". He pulled over where concerned people came to his aid. Garosci suffered a fatal heart attack.
For those of you who study numerology - perhaps there are some clues in the respective dates of death:
Lia Hawkins - 10/21/2010
Michael Church - 6/10/2011
Emanuel Garosci - 11/10/2014
It is also interesting to note that no fatalities were reported on R101 Oceanographer during her exemplary 30 years of service. Only during the initial phase of her conversion into a floating hotel, did the three key people involved in the project lose their lives. Suddenly, inexplicably, unexpectedly. Coincidence?
It has been mariner legend for centuries that one should never change a ship's name - is there some merit to this myth? Or did the boat herself make her point clear that she wanted to remain an explorer vessel? Or, is it just pure "bad luck"?
Returning to the events after these ill-fated individuals had lost their lives. The estate of Lia Hawkins was awarded the vessel, M/Y SAHARA as part of the $4,100,000 US judgment. An auction was held on 25 September 2013 at 11am and NOAA's former flagship failed to raise the reserve of $2,000,000.
For the past 3 years, M/Y Sahara has sat, neglected and taking up valuable space at a port in Seattle, WA. Home only to derelicts, drug addicts and thieves. Although she was extensively advertised for major monies, beautiful depictions of her potential renovation into a mega yacht were adorned on every major yacht and boat sale site, nobody wanted to buy her.
We later discovered via extensive research, that only two months after Lia Hawkin's untimely passing, that M/Y SAHARA's sister, R102 Discoverer, was SECRETLY scrapped in Turkey, in December 2010. This saddened us greatly, as we had also hoped to purchase R102 Discoverer, in addition to the former, R101 Oceanographer.
Google earth view of R102 Discoverer being scrapped in Turkey in December 2010
It was during our extensive research to determine the whereabouts of R102 Discoverer that we came across the most incredible series of articles that outlined the scandal, corruption and yes, tragedy, that also befell the people who had plans to convert the former research vessel into a floating "city of sin".
It is a four part series of articles that are aptly entitled: Windjammer Barefoot Cruises - The End Of An Empire
The link to these exceptionally fascinating articles can be found here:
Knowing that M/Y SAHARA had no interested buyers, her fine reputation stained and superstitious sailors afraid of the curse, or black cloud, that appeared to hover over her, the scrappers began to circle. We realized that the costs of keeping this 303' vessel moored, year after year, requiring policing from derelicts seeking shelter on board, annual insurance premiums and monthly moorage fees draining the bank account, not to mention the estate's desire to see the back of the vessel, we were running out of time if we wanted to salvage her.
We (being the collaboration between Mysterious World TV and Genesis Group International - having formed NEOSTALGIA tm) made a tentative offer to purchase "SAHARA" in July 2015. Flying up to Seattle for the final inspection, we were met again with more frustration.