Gloucester sailboat makes a splash after floating on Florida beach | Local News

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During the night of last Tuesday to last Wednesday, the Shania sailboat ran aground on part of the Florida beach at Clam Pass Park in Naples.

The boat had no crew or passengers, although those who initially discovered the vessel reported that it was crammed with personal belongings and did not appear to have been abandoned.

Initially, no one knew where the Shania began its journey or how it ended up on the beach on the west coast of Florida.

And so the mystery was settled and stories of ghost ships sailed north out of the Sun State.

Included in report: The Shania is registered in Florida, but indicates that her home port is Gloucester. Like in Massachusetts.

Last Thursday morning, Jeff Eagan was at his home in Gloucester when his friend Randy Silva shared an article on Good Morning Gloucester which included a link to a report on the Shania-based Fort Myers TV station, WINK-TV.

“I was just looking at the picture of the boat and I started screaming, ‘Oh no! Oh no! Oh no!'” Said Eagan. “My wife (Michelle) thought someone was dead.”

Michelle Eagan ran around the room to find out what was wrong.

“Look at the sailboat,” said Jeff Eagan, holding out his phone.

And that’s when they both knew: The sailboat that started all of the Southwest Florida mystery was their old ship, Shania.

Eagan bought the 32-foot sailboat Endeavor – already 20 years old – in Salem in 1998.

It was a year after Eagan, known at the time as Bodine, and his crew on the Yankee Spirit whale watching boat were honored by the city and the Coast Guard for their role in two rescues of burning ships.

On May 18, 1997, Eagan and the Yankee Spirit responded to a burning scallop boat – the F / V Corsair on its maiden voyage from Stonington, Maine – on the north edge of Stellwagen Bank and rescued the crew of three before transferring them to a Coast Guard Ship.

On August 9, 1997, Eagan and the Yankee Spirit responded to the Super Daunty VII, a whale watching boat operated by Cape Ann Whale Watch that caught fire on its way back to port with 143 passengers and a crew of three.

The crew of the Yankee Spirit is credited with having safely evacuated approximately 125 passengers from the burning vessel and brought them back to shore safely.

A year later, Eagan named his new sailboat Shania, which in the original language of the Ojibwa tribe in Canada means “I’m on my way”.

It seemed like a fitting name for a sailboat. Truth be told, he dug Shania Twain as well.

Eagan spent months working on the boat. That winter, he decided to sail to Florida with a friend.

“We were about halfway there, just before we got to Chesapeake Bay, when he decided he was going down,” Eagan said. “He thought we were going to die.

Eagan continued alone.

“He sailed well,” he said. “It was easy to use with one hand. It had a 3 foot keel and a 4 foot center board.”

From then on, the boat remained in Florida. It was stored for some time in LaBelle, Florida. When time permitted, the Eagans would sail the Shania to the Bahamas.

In 2014, Eagan sold the boat to a man who had a house and dock on the Gulf of Mexico side in Key West.

And that, at least for the Eagans, that was it. The Shania was someone else’s business.

Quick throwback to last week at Clam Pass Park.

Authorities, tracing the boat from its registration, said it belonged to a man from Key West whom they did not identify. But this isn’t the man who bought the Shania from Eagan in 2014.

According to a report from NBC2 television station in Fort Myers, the owner, Mustafa Abdal-Khallaq, showed up this week to claim his boat. According to the report, he told authorities he had registered the boat so that a Brazilian friend could live there while it was moored off the island of Wisteria. He told them that he woke up one day and the boat was no longer there.

It was the second time that the Shania had slipped her moorings and set sail. The first time he was picked up by a salvager who fell on him. This time he drifted, unattended, about 100 miles to Naples.

It was, Eagan said, an inexplicable journey. There were dozens of islands and keys he could have run aground on and large expanses of dangerous shallow water that could have created all manner of danger.

Somehow, the Shania ran the gauntlet. She was on her way.

Contact Sean Horgan at 978-675-2714, or shorgan@gloucestertimes.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SeanGDT



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