2 rescued from sailboat in Ponte Vedra

Resident contacted Fire Rescue Monday night about boat washed ashore

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Two men rescued from a sailboat that washed ashore on Ponte Vedra Beach late Monday night were taken to Flagler Hospital to be treated, according to St. Johns County Fire Rescue.

Authorities say the sailboat lost power and had been adrift for several days prior to running aground around 11:25 p.m. in the area of the 3000 block of South Ponte Vedra Boulevard.

Fire Rescue was alerted of the boat by a resident in the area.

Authorities said Francis Saunders, 86, of Port St. Lucie, and Jerry Willis, 71, of Cocoa Beach, suffered minor injuries. They said when they arrived, the two men were hanging onto the side of the aft end and looked to be tired and confused. They were taken safely to shore.

The men told St. Johns County deputies they were trying to get to Grand Bahama Island but somehow got turned around on the way there. They said they had been on the boat for the last seven days and lost power, causing them to drift.


Deputies said a rope coming from a sail draped over the bow was entangled in the prop, which may have seized the motor enough to cut power.

Alfy, a dog also on the boat, was OK.

Neighbors living on the beach said they heard a bang when the boat came on shore.

"One of the guys told me they had been without power for roughly a week and were floating out in the Atlantic, and they had to beach the boat to get help," Ronald Hastings said. "They didn't know where they were. They thought they were a lot farther north than where they were."

"But the curious thing is where were the batteries, the GPS system, why weren't they in contact with people on the shore?" said Bruce Joldersna, who's visiting from Michigan and also sails. "Usually you have a course plotted out and people know where you are going and would know if you weren't at those points."

Investigators said they have a lot of unanswered questions.

The U.S. Coast Guard and Florida Wildlife Commission personnel remained at the grounding site trying to determine what went wrong.

The men were later released from the hospital.

A local boat salvage company says the plan is to remove the boat sometime Wednesday morning.