Latitude 38's website reported on Monday, November 19 of the sinking of the custom voyaging boat Argonaut and the loss of its owner Australian sailor John Rice. Said to be an experienced sailor, the 60-year-old Rice was sailing on his 59-foot steel sloop Argonaut in rough conditions near Pamana Island, which is just north of the Indonesian island of Flores. Rice was accompanied by a French Canadian crewmember named Guillaume Gosselin. According to Gosselin, Argonaut began taking on water from one port light on the starboard side. This was enough, as per Gosselin's account, to overwhelm and sink the vessel. Gosselin is said to have abandoned Argonaut and taken to the sea, but Rice refused to leave the boat he dsigned and built. Argonaut sank and some debris from the boat floated to the surface, including Rice's body. Gosselin is said to have reported to Indonesian authorities in Kupang that he checked on Rice's body and determined the Australian man was deceased. Gosselin attempted to get aboard the Nordhavn 46 Kanaloa, owned by Wolfgang and Heidi Hass, which was nearby, but was unsuccessful. Gosselin was later picked up by a fishing boat.
As reported by Latitude 38, Rice's daughter Chelsea Rice-Morris is skeptical of the account offered by Gosselin. "The story doesn't make any sense. My father was a marine engineer and he buiult Argonaut to be unsinkable. It was one of the best built vessels many had ever seen and had the best equipment, so it seems impossible that the boat sank in just a couple of short hours."
Rice-Morris and family members have set up a website as a way for anyone who might have information on the case to cotact them. http://argonautismissing.com/