|Birth: ||1944, USA|
|Death: ||May 2, 1961, USA|
Christopher B. Sheldon's Ocean Academy of Darien, Connecticut, acquired the brigantine Albatross in 1959. The ship was used for student education and combined preparatory college classes, with sailing technique and training. For three years, Christopher Sheldon Ph.D., and his wife, Alice Strahan Sheldon M.D., oversaw programs aboard the vessel for up to 14 students, while sailing the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific Ocean.
Beginning in the fall of 1960, the Sheldons, two other instructors, a cook, and 13 students, including Rick Marcellus, sailed the Albatross from the Bahamas through the Caribbean to the Galapagos Islands and back to the Caribbean. A fourteenth student aboard for the initial part of the voyage left the ship in Balboa, Panama. The schooner was en route from Progreso, Mexico, to Nassau, the Bahamas, when on May 1st, skipper Sheldon decided to make a stop at one of the Florida Keys to refuel.
While in the Gulf of Mexico about 125 miles west of the Dry Tortugas, the Albatross was struck by a sudden squall. The squall hit shortly after 8:30 am on May 2, 1961, causing the ship to keel over very suddenly. The Albatross sank almost instantly, taking with her Alice Sheldon; the ship's cook, George Ptacnik; and four students, Chris Coristine, John Goodlett, Rick Marsellus, and Robin Wetherill. There had not been enough time to send a distress signal before the Albatross was lost, so the remaining crew used two lifeboats to make their way. The lifeboats were found by the Dutch freighter, "Gran Rio", about 7:30 am on May 3rd. and the survivors taken to Tampa, Florida.
According to Christopher Sheldon, the Albatross was hit by a white squall, a very unpredictable, strong, and sudden squall. He believed the ship was stable and the crew of teenagers, who had spent eight months on board, sufficiently trained. The skipper claimed the rare phenomenon left the vessel with no chance of survival. Critics argued that refitting of the vessel over the years by previous owners had made her top heavy, which impacted her ability to remain stable or recover from tilting to the side, as opposed to capsizing.
In 1966 a film directed by Ridley Scott, entitled "While Squall", depicted the fate of the Albatross and her crew. Academy Award winning actor, Jeff Bridges, portrayed Skipper Christopher Sheldon.
Links to Find-A-Grave memorials of other Newport Harbor High schoolmates and teachers can be found listed with Lieutenant Kent Anderson, class of 1962:
Lt. Kent Stuart Anderson
Body lost at sea
Created by: Gabby and Jonas
Record added: Mar 20, 2011
Find A Grave Memorial# 67184908
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