Debra Young said her husband, Max, 67, set out on his sailing adventure when he retired in 2000 and the voyage, which was periodically interrupted when he had to return to work, came to an end Wednesday when a whale destroyed the rudder and punched a hole in his 50-foot, single-mast sailboat off the coast of La Playa, Mexico, the Sacramento (Calif.) Bee reported Friday.
The U.S. Coast Guard picked up Young's distress signal Wednesday and directed a merchant ship to rescue him from his sinking sailboat.
Debra Young said Max called her when the freighter arrived, about nine hours after his confrontation with the whale.
"He was out there waiting to be rescued from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. while the sailboat was sinking," she said. "He was trying to bail it out, but the whale knocked a pretty good hole in it."
She said her husband's round-the-world sailing trip, which she sometimes participated in, took him to Hawaii, Tahiti, Western Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, Australia, Malaysia, Thailand, Turkey and Rome.