Suit: As Ship Went Down, Captain Fled With Masseuse

8 surfers allege their $30K Indian Ocean dream trip became a nightmare
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted May 1, 2017 11:01 AM CDT
Suit: Surf Dream Trip Turned Into Shipwreck Nightmare
A stock, and hopefully happier, photo of a surfer.   (Getty Images/Richinpit)

"Chaos ensued. The masseuse panicked and jumped onto the Jet Ski with the captain." That's not a line from a romance novel set at sea but part of a lawsuit filed after a pricey surf outing allegedly went horribly awry. Courthouse News reports five Californians and three Australians paid a sum of $30,400 to embark on a two-week, wave-filled adventure in the Indian Ocean. Instead, they claim the "legendary surfing excursion vessel" M/V Quest 1 sank a few days after departing on July 19, 2015, from Indonesia for the Mentawai Islands. Per the suit, things took a turn on July 22 when plaintiff Shawn MacLachlan says heat woke him up at 2:30am; he found a flustered crew dealing with 3 feet of water—and no working bilge pumps—in the engine room. As the surfers tried to bail out the room, the captain told them to get ready to flee, then jumped on the Jet Ski.

The surfers, who are seeking punitive damages, allege the crew made off in a motorized boat, leaving them to try to inflate life rafts themselves; they got one successfully open and made use of surfboards and other debris. The group says that by sunrise, the Quest 1 had gone under and the realization the crew hadn't gotten them help had set in. They ultimately managed to flag down another boat, and are now suing trip-organizer Rip Curl surf clothing company and a number of other entities the plaintiffs allege are connected to the mess. As for the legendary vessel, the suit calls its hull "not staunch, watertight, or reasonably fit for sea." Another crazy detail: The masseuse apparently fell off the Jet Ski and one of the surfers tried to rescue her but instead was allegedly run over by the captain, who had come back for her. (Read about another unusual lawsuit.)

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