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Longboat Key Thursday, Oct. 15, 2009 6 years ago

Flood of donations mean smooth sailing for Sarasota student

by: Robin Hartill Managing Editor

At 8 a.m. this morning, Dennis Matthews, director of marine operations at Longboat Key Moorings Marina, read the story of Molly McKinney, a 17-year-old competitive sailor whose boat was stolen Oct. 6 from Sarasota Sailing Squadron. The Pine View School senior had returned from a trip to Stanford University, in Palo Alto, Calif., to find her boat stolen.

Steve Petty, president of the Longboat Key Club Marina Condominium Association II Inc., was at Lowe’s this morning when Matthews called him to ask if slip owners could help. After hearing McKinney’s story, Petty wanted to take action.

“We can’t help everybody that’s ever had a boat stolen,” Petty said. “But this isn’t just someone with a passing interest in sailing.”

Petty made calls to other slip owners, who agreed to help McKinney, who bought the $5,000 boat just five weeks earlier with money she had saved. Meanwhile, Matthews was e-mailing with Longboat Key Club and Resort General Manager Michael Welly, who also read about McKinney and wanted to help. Matthews contacted Ullman Sails owner Doug Fisher.

By noon, they had a plan: The Key Club Moorings Marina and the association would each contribute half of the cost of a new boat, and Ullman Sails would sell them the boat at cost.

At the same time, Matthews was scrambling to find support to get McKinney a boat, McKinney got a note from the office, saying Sarasota police had found her boat on Lido Beach. McKinney later learned that it was damaged. And she also learned from her mother, Barb Lewis, that people wanted to help her buy the new boat.

After school this afternoon, McKinney headed to the Sailing Squadron and thanked Matthews and Petty. She doesn’t have her new boat yet, because Fisher needs to determine what boat would be the right fit.
McKinney, who hopes to attend Stanford and sail competitively in college, said she was surprised that so many people were willing to help.

“I just can’t wait to get back on the water,” she said.

And, although McKinney will have a new boat, her old boat will also get back on the water. The association also pledged to pay for repairs to the damaged boat, which will be donated to the Sarasota Sailing Squadron.

Contact Robin Hartill at [email protected].


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