Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Public safety

Treasure Island police track down origins of mysterious boat that washes ashore

TREASURE ISLAND — Michael T. Frye Jr. and his father thought they had a deal with the man from North Carolina.

The Fryes were supposed to babysit the man's boat. And he was supposed to pay them.

Months went by, however, and the Fryes — the elder 54 and the younger 28 — got tired of the arrangement. And the 30-foot boat taking up space at their Treasure Island home.

So they decided to set it free.

Sunday morning, a witness reported seeing the duo tow the 1973 blue and white Tollycraft through Blind Pass out into the Gulf of Mexico. The men abandoned the boat about 500 yards offshore, police said.

"They weren't collecting the money, so they dumped the boat," said Treasure Island police Officer Steven Timlin.

Only problem was, the boat didn't stay put. It broke free from its anchor and started drifting back to shore.

Sunday afternoon, it came ashore on Sunset Beach.

Timlin tracked down the Fryes, who, according to a report, admitted ditching the boat.

The men "decided to dump the vessel offshore thinking it would be the owner's responsibility," the report said.

Timlin arrested father and son on charges of grand theft and littering.

A police report lists the value of the boat at about $1,500.

The Fryes couldn't be reached for comment Monday. Records show both were released from jail on $5,000 bail late Sunday.

Police did not release the name of the boat owner. Timlin said he believes the man used to live in the area. It was unclear Monday how much he was supposed to be paying the Fryes.

The boat? It was sitting at the southern tip of Sunset Beach, along a jetty, Monday afternoon.

"It is sitting right on the shore," Timlin said. "We are working on getting in contact with the owner . . . and getting it removed."

Monday afternoon, the Coast Guard examined the boat as beachgoers cleaned up debris that spilled from it. Waves crashing seemed to be tearing it apart.

Times photographer Scott Keeler contributed to this report.

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