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SEARCH ONGOING FOR BOAT CAPTAIN

A Tampa man hired him to sail from Texas. He vanishes in gulf.
Published Oct. 1, 2007|Updated Oct. 3, 2007

The Coast Guard continued its search late Sunday for a charter boat captain who went overboard from a 46-foot pleasure craft, owned by a Tampa man, in the Gulf of Mexico about 75 miles west of Hernando County.

Lindsay Forde, 48, of Fort Lauderdale was reported missing at about 6:40 p.m. Saturday by the vessel's owner, Michael Swindle of Tampa, who was also aboard the boat. Swindle had recently hired Forde to help him deliver the Extra Labor, which was purchased in Houston, to Florida.

Coast Guard Petty Officer Tasha Tully said the two men had made several stops along the coast and probably were southbound to Tampa when they ran into rough weather.

Seas were running 6 to 8 feet, winds were at 27 knots and there were scattered thunderstorms in the area Saturday, Tully said.

"It wasn't really favorable sea conditions," she said. "Swindle said he went down below and when he went topside, Forde was gone."

A Coast Guard Jayhawk rescue helicopter from Clearwater was on the scene by 7:30 p.m. The search continued Sunday under continued rough conditions.

Tully said the search for Forde, who reportedly was not wearing a life jacket, would continue today.

A friend of Forde in Fort Lauderdale said the missing man has a family, works as a charter boat captain and delivers yachts. Another friend, who goes by the name Capt. Taco and owns a charter service in Fort Lauderdale, said Forde's family was not talking to the media.

Sunday evening, the Coast Guard Cutter Hawk out of St. Petersburg escorted Extra Labor and Swindle, 56, to Crystal River.

The incident occurred eight days after the bizarre disappearance of the four-person crew of the fishing vessel Joe Cool out of Fort Lauderdale. Two men who had hired the vessel were found floating in a life raft several miles from the abandoned Joe Cool.

They claimed pirates killed the crew and put them into the life raft. The two men are being held during a continuing investigation, however.

That case has caused unease among South Florida charter boat captains. Some have promised to more thoroughly vet clients and others are considering arming themselves.

"I think that captains will research their parties a little bit more now," said Tom Williams, captain of a 38-foot Rampage based in North Palm Beach.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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