Scott Stolnitz, a friend of the California couple killed by pirates early today along with two other Americans off the coast of Oman, said the Adams knew the risks of sailing in the pirate-infested waters. Stolnitz, also an avid sailor, said he and Scott Adam had spoken about the dangers before their ill-fated trip. "This is all of our worst nightmares," he told the Los Angeles Times.
The Adams, who were retired, were sailing their yacht around the world distributing Bibles when they were hijacked Friday by Somali pirates on their way to Djibouti to refuel. With them on board the SV/Quest were two other Americans, Phyllis Macay, 59, and Robert Riggle, 67, a Seattle couple who shared a love of adventure with the Adams.
Macay's niece, Nina Crossland, told The Seattle Times that Macay had been updating her family on her journey from the sailboat before it was hijacked and sent an e-mail to her mother last week telling her they'd "gotten information about the possibility of pirates before starting down their current route," but didn't believe they were in danger.
The four Americans were killed today in a burst of gunfire as the U.S. Navy tried to negotiate their release. Two pirates were killed as well, and 13 more were taken into custody. The two couples had been sailing as part of a flotilla but separated from the group Feb. 15.
The Adams were religious and had traveled around the world on their yacht for nearly a decade, offering Bibles and doing missionary work. Scott Adam, 70, once worked as an associate film producer but had recently gotten a degree from Fuller Seminary in California, according to the BBC.
"They were not proselytizing evangelicals," Stolnitz told CNN. "They were using their Bible mission as a way to break the ice in the Christian community, particularly in the Pacific."
Robert Johnston, one of Scott Adam's professors at the seminary, said the couple sent an e-mail Feb. 12 explaining that they would be out of communication for nearly two weeks because they didn't want to be located by pirates. "They basically had said, 'We're not going to be in communication for 10 or 12 days because we know this is territory where there could be problems and we don't want pirates or other people to know our location,' " Johnston told BBC News.
On a blog the couple kept detailing their exploits around the world, Scott and Jean Adams wrote that they planned to travel to Djibouti, north of Somalia, to refuel. Piracy is rampant in the waters off the east coast of Africa and has become more aggressive in recent years.
"Djibouti is a big refueling stop," they wrote on the blog. "I have NO idea what will happen in these ports, but perhaps we'll do some local touring. Due north is the Red Sea where we plan to tuck in when winds turn to the north."
Macay and Riggle met at the Seattle Singles Yacht Club, where they were both members. A person who answered the phone at the club today declined to be identified, but told AOL News that the couple's friends were "shocked" and were waiting for more details about what happened.
The club's commodore, Lee Stenson, said the couple were "durable" people. "You've got to prepare as you can and you just do what you can do," Stenson told the sailing blog Three Sheets Northwest. "They're both pretty durable people."