Organizers of an international yacht race on Sunday identified four Americans taken hostage by Somali pirates off East Africa, including a man and a woman from Seattle.
The organizers of the Blue Water Rally on their website named the Americans as Phyllis Macay and Bob Riggle of Seattle and Jean and Scott Adam, from Southern California.
Macay had been keeping her mother updated by e-mail from ports of call on her adventures around the world.
The sporadic messages over the three-year voyage, as well as her blogs, was the woman’s way of sharing all that she was seeing and doing, while easing a mother’s fear for a daughter’s safety.
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The last time the 59-year-old Macay e-mailed home, her niece Nina Crossland said Sunday, was just before Valentine’s Day. Macay and her partner, 67-year-old Bob Riggle, apparently joined the Adams aboard their yacht, the Quest, on a route from Mumbai to Oman.
On Friday, Macay’s mother, who lives in San Francisco, got the call she hoped would never come: The sailboat her daughter and three others were on had been hijacked by Somali pirates.
“My grandmother is very, very anxious right now, as you can imagine,” Crossland said. “We all are.”
On Sunday, The Associated Press reported that a warship was shadowing the Quest as it moved closer to the Somali coast. If the yacht reaches Somalia’s shores, the four American hostages would likely be taken inland, where a quick resolution is much less likely.
In her last e-mail, Macay told her mother that they had “gotten information about the possibility of pirates before starting down their current route,” Crossland said Sunday.
The Quest was in the waters between Yemen and northern Somalia, two pirates and a Somali government official told The Associated Press on Sunday. One pirate who gave his name only as Hassan said a warship with a helicopter on its deck was near the Quest.
The pirate’s claims could not be independently verified. Hassan said he is speaking directly with the pirates aboard the hijacked yacht. A second pirate who gave his name as Bile Hussein and a Somali official in Puntland who asked not to be named both said the Quest is between Yemen and Somalia and heading closer to Puntland, a haven for pirates on Somalia’s northern tip.
Pirates have increased attacks on ships off the coast of East Africa, but rarely have Americans been targeted. The last attack against a U.S. crew — in 2009 — ended with Navy sharpshooters killing three pirates and rescuing the ship’s captain.
Pirates currently hold 30 ships and more than 660 hostages, not counting the attack against the Quest.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.