Sunday, 1 March 2009

The Brightest Star - Ali van Os

Ali van Os, the daughter of Lex Silvester and Joanne van Os, died last week, five days after receiving terrible injuries in a tragic marina accident. Lex, Joanne and Ali had anchored their yacht SV Malaika (website here) at Chalong Bay in Phuket. We had planned to share dinner with the family when the accident occurred, and were shocked when Lex called to tell us that Ali had been hurt.

Whilst visiting friends at Yacht Haven Marina, Ali went to watch the berthing of a large (50 metre) super yacht - the motor yacht MY JeMaSa (image below). I've been told that the JeMaSa berthed perfectly, and was stationary with all lines firmed up on the dock when the accident occurred. Apparently the master had berthed the vessel using remote controls on a wing bridge on port side. After berthing he left the wing bridge, however the engines were not shut down. A crew member then came along to replace the weather cover on the controls and pushed the throttles forward as was required to fit the covers (!). It apparently took some time for the engines to surge to maximum revolutions, during which time the onlookers on the dock were desperately trying to raise the attention of the crew on the vessel. As the tension increased people started to move away - someone tried to warn young Ali but the cleat on the dock failed first, releasing the loop in a heavy spring line that whipped past Ali and threw her many metres along the dock. Other people were also injured, with one man suffering a broken leg.

Despite the best efforts of local doctors and emergency services, Ali never recovered consciousness. After exhaustive medical testing, her family and consulting doctors turned off life support five days later. Ali's organs were donated via the Thailand Red Cross, and we know that one 15 year old girl who was close to death now has a new heart- and what a great heart it is ! Ali was one of the world's enthusiasts - a very bright star. She loved what she did, and tackled life head on with great enthusiasm. You always knew when Ali was in the room. As her mother Joanne observed, she was doing what she loved.

Since the accident Joanne and Lex have received many messages from friends, and some from people they didn't know - people that Ali had befriended in towns, anchorages and marinas over recent months. She was unforgettable.

Ali was cremated yesterday after a beautiful Buddhist ceremony at Wat Rattiwanaram here in Phuket. Some of her ashes were spread on the Andaman Sea today, and the remainder are heading home with her family tomorrow, for a further ceremony in Darwin, Australia. The owner and crew of MY JeMaSa, and the local agents Seal Superyachts, have been incredibly supportive since the accident, arranging medical services, travel and accommodation for the family and completing all the funeral arrangements.

For more information on this tragic accident, see the Sailing Anarchy web site, the Northern Territory News and The Australian newspaper.

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