Russian sailor released after four months in jail.

From Ocean Navigator #135
January/February 2004
Vitali Bondarenko, the Russian sailor who, with his wife and two sons, had been attempting to finish a second circumnavigation when he was jailed in June in Newport, R.I., for immigration violations, was released from prison on Oct. 23. (See Chartroom Chatter Nov./Dec. Issue 134.) He had been in prison for four months for failing to appear in a Florida immigration court to update his visa and was arrested when he called at Newport for emergency refueling. The court order allowing Bondarenko to go free stipulated that he ready his vessel and leave the States within 30 days.

Despite having lost weight and strength from a prolonged hunger strike in prison, Bondarenko celebrated with his wife, Marina Ordynskaia, and friends at the Seamen’s Church Institute in Newport following his release. The family wasted no time; they quickly had their their 27-foot sloop hauled out, placing it on a truck, and with their two children, boarded a train for Florida, where they prepared the boat for sea.

“We are so happy to have this behind us,” Ordynskaia said in an interview from Stewart, Fla., on Nov. 12. “We will sail from here to the Bahamas in a few days – we have to leave this week – as soon as the weather clears.”

The Russian family plans to sail through the Canal and continue across the Pacific, Ordynskaia said.

By Ocean Navigator