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Somali pirates seize boat with four U.S. citizens aboard; one couple has Southland connections

February 18, 2011 |  9:17 pm

Pirates off the coast of Somalia have hijacked the yacht of a couple on a worldwide voyage distributing Bibles, according to Somalia’s United Nations mission.

Jean and Scott Adam have been sailing around the world for six years on their sailboat, the S/V Quest. They have raced with the Del Rey Yacht Club in Marina del Rey, which has been their mail drop during their global odyssey.

Omar Jamal, first secretary at the Somali mission, said Friday that pirates in the Indian Ocean had taken four U.S. citizens captive when they hijacked the S/V Quest, according to the Associated Press.

The couple’s website, svquest.com, shows that the Adams were on a journey this winter from India to the Mediterranean by way of the Arabian and Red seas. They had hoped to reach Crete by April, then sail from there to Istanbul, Turkey.

"Djibouti is a big refueling stop," Jean Adam, a retired dentist, wrote of a stop that they were planning just beyond Somalia. "I have NO idea what will happen in these ports, but perhaps we'll do some local touring. Due north is the Red Sea where we plan to tuck in when winds turn to the north."

Last year, the couple sailed to ports in Myanmar, Cambodia and Thailand.

Jamal told the Associated Press that the hijacking raises serious concerns as it follows the sentencing in New York on Thursday of a Somali pirate who kidnapped and brutalized the captain of a U.S.-flagged merchant ship in 2009.

Piracy has flourished off Somalia’s coast for two decades. Before the recent seizures of the S/V Quest and another vessel, the Alfardous, pirates were believed holding 29 ships and about 660 hostages.

The S/V Quest website says almost nothing about where the Adams lived or what they did before they set off around the world.

"We were so unhappy being 'dirt dwellers' during our time in the States that another floating abode had to be acquired," Jean Adam wrote.

But the website richly chronicles their adventures abroad, among them tales of distributing Bibles in Fiji.

"We seek fertile ground for the Word and homes for our Bibles," she wrote. "Often, the ultimate homes are best found by people who are already living locally and seeking and cultivating that fertile ground."

She also told of the uncertainty of their future plans.

"We have some repairs we need to make in Turkey," she wrote. "We'll do a little cruising in the Med. AND we have a reservation on October 15th in St. Katherine's Docks in London, England — SOOOO, we'll see...."

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-- Michael Finnegan

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