A couple who quit their jobs to sail around the world have died in a freak accident after they were killed by their rigging during a storm.
Volker Frank, 57, and his 54-year-old wife Annemarie began their new life in 2019 when they left Germany for the high seas in their yacht Escape.
But the three-year odyssey – followed avidly through fans of the couple’s blog – ended in tragedy when the couple died in violent tropical storm Alex.
Officials believe the storm had damaged the yacht’s rigging which first injured Annemarie and then Volker when he tried to save her.
Both were declared dead after US Coast Guards airlifted them to Massachusetts.
Coast Guard Lieutenant Commander Mason Wilcox said the storm caught them on 12th June.
The pair were carrying two American national passengers on board.
Wilcox said: “There was some sort of rigging failure that had caused an injury to the lady on board, and when the gentleman went by to go help her, he sustained injuries as well.
“Because of those injuries, the two passengers hit the emergency beacon on board to say, ‘We need help.'”
On the 9th June, the yacht had left Bermuda – a British island territory in the North Atlantic Ocean – and headed for Nova Scotia.
Canadian broadcaster CBC reports that the Franks picked up two American passengers somewhere in the Caribbean.
Rescuers left them on board while they flew out the Franks and then returned for them, leaving the yacht adrift.
Their identities have been withheld by US officials.
The couple’s 68-feet French-built CNB 66 yacht was eventually towed to Dartmouth Cove in Nova Scotia, Canada.
The Franks’ ocean adventure had become a huge social media hit before the tragedy struck.
They announced when they launched it: “We have decided to turn our world upside down and start something totally new.
“Now we are enjoying life on our wonderful sailing yacht Escape. Sailing and travelling have become the main aspects of our lives.”
The yacht was eventually retrieved by local sailor Philip Wash from Halifax.
He said: “We put all kinds of lights on it, and there it was, just sitting there, flopping back and forth.”
German and US authorities are investigating the accident.
Volker and Annemarie – who got married in 2002 – covered over 24,000 nautical miles since having embarked on their trip three years ago.
Their Instagram channel – which has around 2,000 followers – is full of breathtaking shots of sunsets and Caribbean coastlines.
In her final blog post published on the 8th June, Annemarie had voiced concerns about the upcoming sailing conditions.
She wrote: “We really enjoyed our short visit to St. George’s. We are really looking forward to what Bermuda has to offer in the coming days.
“However, we are well aware that the foreseeable future does not hold just relaxing sightseeing for us. ‘Alex’, the first tropical storm of the season, is approaching.
“It appears as if ‘Alex’ will plough right through our gorgeous little island paradise.”
Earlier on in her last text, the retired pharmacist wrote about visiting St. George’s Queen Elizabeth Park.
She underlined the local residents’ hospitality and joked about taking a bus “although the skipper (her husband) is not a big fan of public transport.”
Meanwhile, Annemarie’s brother, Alexander Auer, asked friends and followers not to indulge in speculations about their accident.
He is quoted as saying by Express, a Cologne newspaper: “Our compassion soothes our sorrows. However, may we ask you not to speculate on the occurrences? I plan to make another statement at a later date.”