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Trip to the Abyss – the mystery of the Faust’s disappearance in 1968 (Part 1)

The fishing vessel Faust belonging to the company Rafael Acosta built at the port of Tazacorte on the island of La Palma (Canary Islands) of Spain, has a total length of 14m and a displacement of up to 20 tons. In addition to fishing at sea, it is often used to transport fruits, vegetables, diesel oil and other goods. As the ship itself was only powered by a 43 hp Liszt engine (AVL List) and had a top speed of only 7 knots (13 km/h), it was only used for inter-island navigation. nearby and will not set sail. In these daily voyages, the Faust has performed extremely safely and has never had any problems.

The main character of the story, the ship Faust.

In addition to the owner of the ship named Acosta, Faust has four crew members including: two brothers Ramón and Eliberto Hernández (47 and 42 years old respectively), Miguel and Viterbo Acosta (43 and 41 years old). They are all relatives of the owner of the Acosta and have many years of experience as crew members.

On the evening of July 20, 1968, as usual, the Faust set sail again, this time its destination was El Hierro, 80km south of the port of Tazacorte. The cargo on board is a lot of explosives, which are purchased together by the island’s farmers, used to blow up some rocks on the island to facilitate land reclamation. Due to the local Carmen Festival, Viterbo, one of the crew members had to stay behind to help everyone, so he didn’t board the ship and escaped the historic event.

Trip to the Abyss the mystery of the Faust s disappearance in 1968 Part 1 | Living

Three sailors were on board at the time of the incident, from left to right: brothers Ramón and Eliberto Hernández (47 and 42 years old, respectively), and Miguel (43 years old).

After leaving the port of Tazacorte, Faust traveled about 7 hours and arrived at the port of Frontera on the northern coast of El Hierro. While the sailors on the ship were busy unloading in the port, on the shore suddenly appeared a strange guest named Julio García (27 years old), an engineer, a family with a wife and two daughters. He is also from Tazacorte and works as an automatic irrigation system repairman on a private property in El Hierro.

That same day, he received a phone call from his wife and learned that his two-month-old daughter at home had a high fever, the doctor prescribed antibiotics but the situation was still not good. Julio felt very nervous and wanted to go home immediately, but because it was too late to catch the return train, he had to wait two days for the next train.

Trip to the Abyss the mystery of the Faust s disappearance in 1968 Part 1 | Living

Young father Julio Garcia and eldest son.

Just when Julio was in despair, he saw the Faust docked and ran to ask if he could hitchhike and come home with them. The enthusiastic sailors on the Faust, after hearing the story, felt very sympathetic to this young father and they did not hesitate to agree to give him a lift without taking a dime.

After the sailors collected more than ten kilograms of fruit from the locality, the Faust left El Hierro at 2:30 a.m. and continued to move, and began a journey home that no one could have imagined. This brief trip – only a few tens of kilometers long – turned out to be the beginning of a tragedy. The four members of the ship were never able to set foot on land again.

According to the testimony of local fishermen and sailors, the day of the accident, the sea was very calm, the weather was normal. Although fog appeared early in the morning, according to the sailing experience of the Faust sailors, it was not a hindrance. And even if the fog prevented the crew from seeing La Palma’s iconic giant mountain range, they could easily reorient themselves after the sun came up.

Trip to the Abyss the mystery of the Faust s disappearance in 1968 Part 1 | Living

The mountains on La Palma are all more than 2,000 meters above sea level, and if the weather is good, navigating between the two islands can even be done intuitively.

Based on ship speed, Faust was due to dock at Tazacorte around 10 a.m. on July 21. However, the ship did not return to port at the scheduled time, although Acosta’s owner did not think his crews were on board. he would have encountered any trouble on this routine voyage, but he immediately ordered another of his ships to set sail from the port of Tazacorte, heading in all directions to the port of Frontera – this was indeed the voyage. opposite for Faust’s voyage, but no trace of Faust was found. At the same time, the lifeboats deployed in the nearby waters did not receive any useful information.

Acosta felt that the situation was not very good, he suspected that there was something wrong with the ship’s equipment, causing the ship to lose control and drift off course. However, as long as there was still enough food and water on board the Faust, he might still be able to find them. Acosta immediately contacted local authorities and search and rescue teams, hoping to receive professional assistance.

Trip to the Abyss the mystery of the Faust s disappearance in 1968 Part 1 | Living

The search and rescue map developed by the Spanish government covers most of the waters near the archipelago.

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