A Kiwi sailor has spoken of his heartbreak at losing his floating home of seven years in a mystery incident off the coast of Majorca.

Jonny Smythe, 43, returned from a two-hour trip into town to buy glass for a door he was repairing as a favour for a friend, to find his 10m sailing boat being smashed against rocks.

He rescued what he could - salvaging his wallet, electronics and a sextant before it became too dangerous to continue as the wind increased and waves battered the vessel - but was otherwise left with just the clothes he was wearing.

Last night Smythe, who earns his living as a carpenter, told how he was trying to get his life back on track "one day at a time" after being left saddled with heavy debts by the loss of his yacht which was named La Maja after Spanish artist Goya's masterpiece La Maja Desnuda.

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The 10m sailing boat was wrecked after being smashed against rocks off the Majorca coast. Photo / Solarpix.com
The 10m sailing boat was wrecked after being smashed against rocks off the Majorca coast. Photo / Solarpix.com

The New Zealand-born sailor, who moved to England as a child said: "It's not an understatement to say my life has been turned upside down".

"No pun intended but I don't think it's properly sunk in yet.

"La Maja was my permanent home for seven years from September 2010 when I bought her in Aberystwyth, West Wales, till I lost her on September 11 2017.

"Everything I'd accumulated in that decade, apart from the few things I was able to salvage in the aftermath, went down with the boat, my clothes included.

"I was left with just the shorts I was wearing. The clothes I'm in now have been provided by friends and well-wishers who have been fantastic.

"I'm sleeping on a British friend's sofa and just taking one day at a time while I try to work out my future because that's all I can do at the moment."

Mystery surrounds the personal tragedy that has befallen Smythe, who had moored the boat off an island near the upmarket marina of Puerto Portals a short drive from Magaluf in southwest Majorca.

Smythe had moored the boat off an island near the upmarket marina of Puerto Portals before it was dashed against the rocks and wrecked. Photo / Solarpix.com
Smythe had moored the boat off an island near the upmarket marina of Puerto Portals before it was dashed against the rocks and wrecked. Photo / Solarpix.com

Initial local reports said strong currents and high winds had driven the yacht, which was designed by an American master boat builder called Hugh Angleman whose customers included Hollywood celebs like Spencer Tracy, Dick Powell and John Wayne, on to rocks by a seaside restaurant called Roxy Beach.

But Smythe, who arrived in Majorca in August last year after a two-year trip from the UK via the Algarve, Gibraltar and Ibiza doing work on and off on the way, says the wind was only 12 knots and he suspects another vessel accidentally set his boat adrift by dislodging his anchor as it raised its own.

He said: "The wind and currents got stronger as the day went on but in the two hours I was away the sea conditions were good.

"There was very little wind and I had two 35 pound anchors down. It had been moored in the same spot for around three weeks with no problems.

"I had to leave La Maja temporarily to go and buy some glass to repair a door as a favour for the school teacher friend who is currently putting me up."

A friend of Smythe's has launched a GoFundMe appeal called the La Maja Rescue Fund to help him save his home which has already raised more than $3700 of its $18,550 target.

Alan Vermulen wrote on the fundraising page, highlighting the sailor's plans to use La Maja for a new environmentally-friendly business and before the boat was salvaged:

"Jonny is a kind soul, a carpenter by trade and someone who helps anyone he can with the greatest enthusiasm.

"He was using his vessel to live aboard while doing jobs around the Med and her tragic sinking has now left him without a home or a means or making a living, unfortunate as
his dream was to use La Maja to start a zero emission free trade haulage.

"Donations will help in getting La Maja back to the surface and towed to a shipyard where he can begin her repairs.

"Any little bit helps, even a referral to a carpentry job you may be aware of as Jonny is a seriously talented carpenter."

The British expat, who was born in Devonport near Auckland, admitted last night repair was no longer an option because of the cost of recovering his vessel and taking it to a shipyard to avoid even higher fines he was being threatened with if he failed to remove the wrecked boat.

A kindly local diving firm which helped him recover the boat and get it to dry land offered to wait for payment instead of charging him upfront like most others - and allow him to settle his bill as and when he could by selling off La Maja's valuable parts including her lead keel to help pay his debts.

His situation is complicated by the fact he was planning to sell his beloved vessel for another - a nowadays rare Bristol Channel Pilot Cutter used in World War II - which he was planning to use for a new business venture transporting goods like coffee and rum from South America to Europe with sails only and no engines.

Smythe had already borrowed part of the money to finance the $115,000 purchase and was planning on paying the rest with the sale of $65,000-valued La Maja.

He said: "If I'm lucky and the GoFundMe appeal reaches somewhere near its target I may have enough to help pay the salvage and other costs like the fees associated with the shipyard storage which are rising by the day.

"Anything that's left over from the sale of the parts would be a bonus.

"The only good thing that's come out of this experience is seeing how people have rallied round to help.

"There was some looting that took place while La Maja was on the rocks and seeing how unscrupulous people could be was very unsavoury.

"But generally speaking the help I've received has been far greater than the hindrance.
"I've bounced back from difficult situations before so I'm just hoping I can bounce back from this one, although knocks don't come much bigger than losing your home."

- Australscope