Beached yacht removed, but owner has yet to claim it

ST. PETERSBURG — The unmanned 48-foot yacht that showed up on Redington Beach earlier this week is out of the sand and now docked at Maximo Marina.

How long it will stay there is still a mystery.

That's because the person who claims to own the boat, a Mexican man who said the boat was stolen from a Cancun marina last week, hasn't made any effort to collect it yet.

"He's not called here," said Sgt. Tom Nestor, a spokesman for the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, which has a hold on the boat. "He's called (the Associated Press), but he's not called here. Everybody knows we have the boat."

The boat, a yacht called Makin Waves, first came ashore about noon Wednesday.

Its presence immediately became a puzzle for residents and local authorities, who found the vessel empty, although the engine was running on autopilot.

While officials tried to locate the boat's owner, a Largo salvage company, Joe's Towing and Recovery, worked to free the yacht from the sand.

Crews finally got it done 36 hours later, as a line of thunderstorms moved in late Thursday. Using a truck tire strapped to a Bobcat, they pushed against the vessel and rocked it in the waves until it moved.

"It was a nice challenge," said Charlie Rice, 36, of Oak Environmental, a Seminole company hired by the tow company to help with the job.

Authorities are working to get the boat back to its owner.

A Tampa man said he sold the yacht in 2008 to Arturo Millet Reyes, 43, of Mexico, who owns a professional soccer team there. Reyes told the AP on Thursday that the boat had been stolen and that the Mexican coast guard has been on the lookout. But so far, Pinellas detectives have been unable to connect with Mexican authorities, Nestor said.

If and when the owner steps forward, he or she will have to pay a price to get the yacht back. Joe Kolodziej Sr., 70, the owner of the salvage company, said the final bill hasn't been calculated. In addition to his own recovery fees, Kolodziej said, the owner is responsible for the subcontractor's costs and storage fees at the marina.

Beached yacht removed, but owner has yet to claim it 08/27/10 [Last modified: Friday, August 27, 2010 11:09pm]

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