Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Joe Cool Update - Tale of Murder on the High Seas?

The passengers are now saying that "unknown subjects" had hijacked the boat, shot and killed the four crew members and then ordered the passengers to throw the bodies into the sea.

Tale of Murder on the High Seas??

Yacht skipper’s family hopeful boaters still alive and cousin of missing captain says survivor’s hijacking-at-sea story far-fetched... ,p/> Jake Branam's website with photos of he and friends can be viewed here. Very sad to view these photos of a young man with a lot of potential. Hopefully the crew is still alive.






Seventh UPDATE - No bodies no confessions may make for a difficult prosecution??


Joe Cool - Missing Crew - What Are the Lessons that Can be Learned?? How Can Charter Boat Captains and Crew Protect Themselves??

Below is a story about the above pictured boat, The Joe Cool. This tragic story is all over the news. It remains possible that the crew who disappeared on Saturday are still alive. They may have been put off on an island or could be floating in life jackets in the Gulf Stream off the East Coast. We hope they are found safe soon. The Captain and his wife apparently have two small children that they left behind.

It is unknown presently whether there was foul play but the there is speculation that the passengers did something to the crew.

This story raises questions about how Charter Captains and Crew can keep themselves safe if their boat is chartered by passengers with criminal intent. In this age of terrorism and at times piracy one must be vigilant when taking on passengers.

If you have thoughts about how vessel owners, Captains and crews can keep themselves safe from criminal acts please share them with us.

Again we hope there has been no crime and that the Captain and his crew are found safe soon.


Reports in this case say that piracy off South Florida is rare to non-existent. This case, however, demonstrates how easy it is for (alleged) crimials to overpower a knowledable and sizeable crew. One must assume that the antenna of all boat captains and operators will go up following this incident and that it will not just be business as usual. Security measures on big ships like Cruise Ships is common but it seems that more must be done to protect small operators. This may be an isolated incident but one must wonder whether others may copy-cat on this incident. If these passengers did kill the crew (alleged but not proven yet) it shows how easy it would be to repeat this crime. These passengers (if they did it) did not know enough to operate the boat to their destination. If experienced operators pulled the same kind of stunt there is no telling what mischief they could do with a boat of this size. To me, this is an imporatant issue for the boating and yachting community.

From this article (,0,3438134.story ) it looks like things may be changing on the docks.

Dwayne Clark

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

FBI questions witnesses ( Kirby Archer and G. Zarabozo ) about 4 missing crew ( Jake Branam, wife and crew ) - Charter Boat Joe Cool Crew Missing -

MIAMI - Four crew members were missing from a boat found adrift and two passengers, one of them a fugitive from Arkansas, were being questioned by federal authorities Tuesday after they were rescued in the Florida Straits near Cuba. Kirby Logan Archer, 35, of Strawberry, Ark., and Guillermo Zarabozo, 19, of Hialeah, were found in good condition Monday morning on a life raft. Sunday, the “Joe Cool” charter boat, a 47-foot sport fishing yacht, was found adrift 160 miles south of Bimini, near the Cay Sal Bank, with no one on board.Those missing include the captain of the “Joe Cool,” 27-year old Jake Branam, his wife Kelly, 30-year old Scott Campbell and 27-year old Samuel Kairy.

"Everything on the vessel was in complete disarray, thrown around. It looked like whoever had been on the vessel left in a hurry," said U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer James Judge.He said a check of the boat's global positioning system indicated the vessel had made erratic movements about halfway to Bimini, then turned sharply south. There was no sign of blood or violence on the vessel. The life raft was missing. "I was hoping that if the boat was pirated, they put the crew in the life raft, because it was missing," said Jeff Branam. Before noon Monday, he learned that was not the case. Here's a strange twist to the mystery. The latest from the Miami Herald. UPDATE on Joe Cool missing crew from Orlando Sentinel.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Hit and Run Boaters Remain on the Loose - Barry Pendley Killed

Barry Pendley, and his son Dylan Pendley, 8, were riding separate jet skis on the Colorado River near Topock. A boat traveling at high speed slammed into Barry, its wake nearly knocking Dylan into the water as well.Two people, a man and woman, aboard the speeding boat briefly turned back to see Barry's lifeless body floating in the river. They then headed south toward Lake Havasu, leaving an ongoing death investigation to the San Bernardino (Calif.) Sheriff's Department.

------------------------- See this article also.

Cases don't get much worse than this. If you or someone you know has any information about this incident call the authorities. The family will have no closure until this is solved. In most hit and run cases someone knows what happened and they should come forward.


Friday, September 14, 2007

FWC looking for accident witnesses

Lawmen continue to look for someone who drove an injured boater to get medical treatment early Sunday morning. The driver and owner of the boat, 44-year-old Scott Block of Niceville, was treated and released for head injuries, according to Stan Kirkland, spokesman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Block’s 19-foot Master-Craft boat was left stranded on the west jetty of East Pass near Destin. Block was reportedly at Helen Back at about 1 a.m. Sunday, Kirkland said. He told investigators that he left with several other individuals. “We’re hoping someone will come forward,” Kirkland said. “Right now, this is considered an active boating accident investigation.” Anyone with information is asked to call the FWC at (888) 404-3922.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Two Killed in Florida Helicopter Crash; Survivor from Los Angeles

Venice Florida -- A photo shoot turned deadly in the waters near Venice, Florida on Tuesday morning when a helicopter crashed, killing two people and injuring another. Authorities say the copter went down in about 20 feet of water about two miles off of Casey Key Road. That's about six miles northeast of Venice in the Gulf of Mexico.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

F/V Papa George - Sinking and 2 crew dead

A Seattle fishing vessel that sank off the Washington coast Sunday apparently capsized after becoming flooded, killing two of its crew members, one of whom was seen in her final moments trying to rescue her dog.

"It's pretty cut and dry as to why this vessel sank," said Coast Guard Petty Officer Brian Fischer. "At some point, they were pumping more water on than they were pumping off."

The two crew members of the F/V Papa George who died in the accident were identified by the Coast Guard on Monday as ships master David Starbuck, 62, and crew member Ethel Zelaya, 37.

Reports are that the ship's automatic beacon (probably epirb) did not send signal.