There was no moon, no one awake, no one there to see. Only the hollow midnight stare of the empty dockside windows watched the sleek black schooner slip away from the wharf, drift past the blinking harbor lights, and spread her white sails into the night. There was wind — a lot of wind. Whistling. Howling. Shaggy sheep’s heads of foam, surging and leaping. And once the boat left the shelter of the stone breakwater, she began to roll violently, wallowing in the large swells of the open seaway.
Two huge sails snaked up her masts, and when these were set and pulling, a lone figure slowly inched his way out along the foot ropes that hung below the long plunging bowsprit and pulled loose the rope stops that secured the jibs. When these were hoisted and set the boat steadied and heeled to the hard implacable easterly wind, gaining power and speed, sailing fast now, driving, smashing, through the foaming black waves, throwing huge cascades of seawater up and out, to be blown back like rain by the wind, drenching the deck, the crew, and the young woman at the helm.
She screamed over the roar of the wind and the sea, "Set the main staysail." Instantly the silent cluster of yellow clad figures, huddled against the spray, sprang into movement again.
A tall man in black raingear who had been standing still and silent by the mainmast yelled back to her, “Fanci, there’s enough sail up now?” but the wind blew his words away.
The fresh sail snaked up between the masts and flogged violently in the wind until two of the yellow clad figures in the cockpit struggled the sheet around a winch and began to crank it in. The flogging lessened and then stopped as the new sail trimmed; the large schooner picked up speed and heeled even more. The yellow figures melted back into the vibrating deck as the great living machine of canvas, rope, and wood drove crashing through the foaming crests of the black sea and disappeared into the black void of the night.
The young woman screamed again — joyfully this time, to no one but the wind and the night . . . “My God," she yelled . . . "Oh, my God . . . Look at this son of a bitch go."
A long time later she turned and looked back at the sky behind her. It was all black glass and diamonds, and the lights of Saint Tropez were gone.
The International Herald Tribune — October 13
Sometime after midnight, in the early hours of October 12, the yacht Fantaci slipped past sleeping port authorities in Saint Tropez and sailed away. Port Captain Andre Blupois, who just that evening had been ordered by the ministry in Paris to seize the vessel, told reporters that he will conduct an immediate investigation.
Among those believed to have been aboard were Fanci Ostenburg, only child of the yacht's owner, Swiss financier, Prince Nikolai von Ostenburg, and her current boyfriend, fashion photographer, Rand Blackwell.
Although the young princess is best known for her charming and outrageous antics in European Society, she is also a rising star in the art world, but ever since the sensational financial scandal involving her father, her once busy Saint Tropez gallery, Fantaciworks, has been locked and closed, and for some months her whereabouts have been unknown.
The collapse of the once powerful Banque Ostenburg Geneve carried with it not only the von Ostenburg fortune, but Prince Nilolai’s freedom as well. Swiss authorities frown on bankers who speculate with other people's money, no matter how honorable their intentions, or their pedigree — unless of course they win. Unfortunately the Prince did not win. His bank collapsed; he is in jail, and the Princess is broke.
Or she was. The yacht Fantaci, and Fanci Ostenburg, have completely disappeared.
Her next concern lay seven hundred nautical miles to the west, at the straits of Gibraltar, an eight mile gap between continents, where Spain reaches down into the wide Mediterranean and almost touches the coast of North Africa. She had to get her boat through there without being seen; only then would she be safe, lost in the vast watery reaches of the Atlantic Ocean.
Société Mundial — vol. 6 no. 10
Don't you find it rather strange that there has been no serious investigation by the Swiss government into the disappearance of Fanci Ostenburg? After all, in spite of her father's unfortunate difficulties with the family bank, he is still the 17th Prince of Vostov-Ostenburg, and besides, Fanci is simply far too fascinating for us to let her simply disappear into thin air — Europe has been such a bore without her.
I decided to take my own little peek into the matter. Last month when I was in London I dropped in unannounced on Wolfgang Mueller, the Swiss consul there. The poor man was more than a little embarrassed by the excuses he had to offer for the lack of action by his government. What Wolfie told me is this: "The Princess is always running off like this, and besides, the schooner Fantaci is not a Swiss vessel; nothing can be done."
I called our correspondent in Saint Tropez to see if she could find out more about the princess's disappearance. She asked around and found that things are not so cut and dried as officials would have us believe. It seems that the Fantaci is not owned by the Prince at all, and in fact belongs to Fanci, but someone was able to persuade the French court to seize it anyhow. Fanci wasn't about to stand by and let that happen; she just sailed it away in the middle of the night. Good for her.
I cannot pursue the matter further; I have neither the time nor the resources, but even if I had I am not sure that I would. Perhaps it's best that the disappearance of the schooner Fantaci, and the whereabouts of Fanci Ostenburg remain an enigma, at least for now.