The 36m yacht, on which Sir Peter was fatally shot by pirate' />

Sir Peter Blake's schooner, Seamaster, has been bought by a French sailing enthusiast.

The 36m yacht, on which Sir Peter was fatally shot by pirates on the Amazon River in December 2001, has been sitting idle off Rhode Island for more than 18 months.

A group of New Zealanders who sailed with Sir Peter aboard Seamaster had hoped to buy the boat, but it is thought they could not raise the money.

However, new owner Etienne Bourgois has said he intends to retain the Seamaster name as well as forming his crew from past members of blakexpeditions, Sir Peter's environmental project.

Mr Bourgois said he would use Seamaster for the same purpose as Sir Peter - to gain knowledge about the environment and to help protect it, using a scientific approach.

The new crew will refurbish the yacht and prepare it for its Atlantic Ocean crossing to France.

Sir Peter bought the Antarctic Explorer, formerly owned by French marine legend Jacques Cousteau, in 2000 and renamed it Seamaster.

Mr Bourgois is believed to have paid US$1.75 million ($2.9 million) for the yacht, which was designed to sail in polar seas.

Herald Feature: Peter Blake, 1948-2001