Magalia man rescued from stormy seas

John Anderton set out 18 months ago on his sailboat looking for adventure, but he got a lot more than he bargained for recently.

As luck would have it, some cadets from the Massachusetts Maritime Academy were cruising through the ocean near the Dominican Republic last week when they came across Anderton, who lists a Magalia address. A violent storm had left his 38-foot sailboat “in shambles,” reported MMA representative Chris Ryan, and Anderton was dehydrated and hungry after being stranded alone on the drifting boat for the better part of a week.

“He was lucky we found him,” Ryan said. “It didn’t look good.”

Anderton was taken to a hospital in the Dominican Republic for treatment of dehydration and exposure but is expected to recover, Ryan said. While damaged in the storm, his boat was towed to shore and will be repaired.

Anderton’s friend, Magalia resident Harry Wild, commented that the sailor, who’s 61 and retired, knew he would face dangerous conditions when he set out alone to sail around the Caribbean in September 2000. His plan was simple: sail the open ocean and “have adventures” until he tired of it, Wild said.

“And to tell the truth, I thought he’d be tired of it by now,” Wild said.

As it turned out, he wasn’t. E-mails he sent to Wild recently tell of a dashing adventure in Jamaica, where his running lights failed and he was left in the dark to cross over a ship that sank to the bottom of the sea in 1692. He also reports on a trip to a Panamanian hospital for treatment of a bladder infection (and a subsequent mini-vacation in Panama, where he managed finally to finagle a ride back to his boat from a surprisingly friendly group of beer-swilling, machete-toting locals). He also enjoyed a short stay at a “funky” little Caribbean island near the Panama Canal.

Anderton is far from being a novice sailor, Wild said. While working as a computer programmer at Stanford, Anderton docked his sailboat in Alameda and lived on it, sailing whenever he got the time.

After he retired, he took off full time on the sailboat, using his savings and an inheritance from his mother to fund the trip. Wild estimated that it’s relatively cheap to live on a boat and sail around the world—about $1,000 a month.

“He’s just out there having a good time, checking things out,” Wild said. “Even though [he had to be rescued], I’m sure he’s still out there having a great time.”