Tale of a sailboat high and dry

A crew from M/V Pacific Star visit the Cesura, grounded on Akutan Island. Photo Courtesy Capt. John Seville.

A sailboat that left Juneau in mid-May is high and dry on Akutan Island in the Aleutians. Her sailor apparently is trying to raise money to finish his trip.

The Cesura grounded sometime on June 22, and was found by the M/V Pacific Star on the east side of Sarana Bay. John Seville is captain of the Pacific Star, a 163-foot research vessel:

“And we seen this fire on the beach and a sailboat and this guy waving a flag, so we got a hold of him on Channel 16 and talked with him and he was fine as far as his health. He said just he fell asleep and the boat went aground. And it was high and dry, sittin’ straight up and down on its keel, pointin’ out toward the water,” Seville said.

The Cesura’s operator is Rimas Meleshyus, a Russian immigrant, who was living in Juneau when he decided to sail around the world.

Seville said his crew took Meleshyus batteries and food.

“What we did was haul his anchor out offshore for him and we planted that, and hopefully on a high tide he could pull himself off the beach,” he said.

Seville also reported the Cesura’s grounding to the U.S. Coast Guard.

Petty Officer Grant DeVuyst says a Coast Guard helicopter out of Cold Bay took Meleshyus to Dutch Harbor. He says there was no pollution and the boat was safe, so Meleshyus would be responsible for getting the boat off the island himself.

“The vessel is actually still on the island where it ran aground,” DeVuyst said. “He’s going to have to rely on commercial services to actually get it salvaged.”

Meleshyus has claimed to have escaped the Soviet Union in 1988 when he fled to the American Embassy in Moscow to seek political asylum. He has lived in various parts of the U.S. It’s unclear how long he had been in Juneau when he decided to sail around the world and started to raise funds for the trip.

He was headed to Kamchatka Peninsula in the Russian Far East when he went aground.

When the Pacific Star’s Captain Seville heard Meleshyus claimed Juneau as home, he called KTOO with the story. He said it was clear Meleshyus planned to hang out in Dutch Harbor for a while before refloating his sailboat.

“He obviously doesn’t have a whole lot of money to do it and he’s just looking for donations as he’s going,” Seville said.

No word from Meleshyus on when he plans to start on the next leg of his trip.


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