Mysterious sailboat runs aground on Florida beach after Irma

  • Rick Neale
  • FLORIDA TODAY
9:23 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017 Atlanta News

MELBOURNE BEACH, Fla. — A 45-foot sailboat washed up on a Florida beach, drawing spectators and sparking speculation about

Was she driven out into the ocean by Hurricane Irma? Were any people on board? And what happened to the mannequin passengers?

"Looks rough. It looks like it's been abandoned a while," Palm Bay, Fla., resident Deena McCollum said Wednesday night, standing on the beach near a group of onlookers.         

"It looks like a ghost ship," McCollum said.

The unoccupied sailboat was reported Tuesday morning by a beach jogger, said Tod Goodyear, Brevard County Sheriff's Office spokesman.

The unoccupied sailboat was reported Tuesday morning by a jogger at Spessard Holland South Beach Park, said Tod Goodyear, Brevard County Sheriff's Office spokesman. A deputy determined the vessel, Cuki, is registered to an owner in Key West who is jailed in Monroe County, he said.         

Deputies contacted the U.S. Coast Guard and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Goodyear said. Don Walker, county spokesman, did not have information on the vessel available Wednesday night.

Coast Guard records show Cuki is a 45.4-foot fiberglass-hull sailboat built in 1974. Hailing port: Key West.

"What I find amazing is this sailboat stayed intact, two masts, and it rode that hurricane all the way up here from Key West. This boat definitely originated from Key West. I looked up the hull number on it," Tom Tobin, a charter pilot who lives a couple blocks from the boat, said Wednesday night.

"Earlier today when I was out here, there were two mannequins on board. They survived it, too. So to me, that's incredible that they survived that journey in a Category 5 hurricane," Tobin said.         

The boat's name is painted on the transom in aging blue paint alongside the port New Rochelle, N.Y. "OK" is also spray-painted on the hull in a few places, indicating that the Coast Guard may have encountered and marked the sailboat at sea.         

"It's gotten some stuff stripped off it since this morning, unfortunately: electronics," Don Landin, who lives just south of Melbourne Beach, said Wednesday night standing next to the sailboat.

"It looks like it's in pretty good shape overall. There's a little crack by the front of the keel, but that's probably just fiberglass," Landin said.         

"I guess the radar dome was too high for the scavengers to get," he said, looking up a mast at a Raymarine radome antenna suspended high above the sand.

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