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"Europa' tracks down stolen yacht

The search for a stolen yacht Saturday evening put a little adventure into a dinner and dance cruise aboard the Europa Sun. On Saturday, the Coast Guard was escorting the stolen yacht back to Madeira Beach from about 12 miles out in the Gulf of Mexico, said Detective Bob Wilson of the Madeira Beach Police Department.

Europa Sun Capt. Craig Matthews noticed the yacht, Grins, leaving port about 6 p.m. while the Europa was boarding passengers.

Matthews recognized the yacht because he has been captain on it part time for five years.

Terry Lawrence, director of marketing and special events for Europa, said the Europa called every vessel in the Gulf, the Coast Guard and Madeira Beach police to search for the yacht.

Lawrence said Matthews finally saw the yacht with binoculars about 8 p.m. He said two young men appeared to be aboard.

The $250,000 yacht is owned by Harlen Allen of Jacksonville.

He keeps the vessel at Snug Harbor in Madeira Beach, where he often vacations.

Allen said he did not give anyone permission to use his yacht. No further information was available Saturday.

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