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Longboat Key Friday, Oct. 30, 2020 1 year ago

Longboat owner cited over washed-ashore sailboat

Since September, Mark Sternal's sailboat has remained aground in Longboat Key.
by: Mark Bergin Staff Writer

The owner of a sailboat beached on Longboat Key since September now faces legal consequences.

Mark Sternal was charged with failure to remove a derelict vessel, a first-degree misdemeanor, according to Longboat Key Deputy Police Chief Frank Rubino. The highest criminal penalty is up to one year in a county jail, one year of probation and a fine up to $1,000.

Mark Sternal speaks with Longboat Key police on Sept. 16 after his sailboat washed ashore near 4239 Gulf of Mexico Drive.

If Sternal is convicted, he could still be held responsible for the cost to remove or dispose of the boat. Rubino said the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission could prevent Sternal from renewing a boat or vehicle registration until removal costs are paid. 

Sternal had until Oct. 28 — 21 days — to remove the sailboat or appeal, Rubino said.

The Longboat Observer has reached out to Sternal with a request for comment and has not heard back as of Friday morning.

The town of Longboat Key is now working with the FWC to remove the boat in the 4200 block of Gulf of Mexico Drive. Rubino said the town is planning to send the FWC a formal letter to request assistance in removing Sternal’s boat.

According to Rubino, the town should not have to pay for removal or disposal costs because this situation would fall under the West Coast Inland Navigation District derelict vessel program.

Earlier this month, Rubino said private companies gave Sternal a price quote of more than $5,000 to pull his sailboat from shore and tow it.

Sternal’s boat — which he says he bought for $3,000 in Punta Gorda — was damaged since he initially tried anchoring it on Sept. 14 near his condo. The damage includes two broken anchors and holes in the hull.

Sternal claims several private water towing companies had canceled on him in the days after his initial grounding. He also said the boat did not have significant damage before the cancellations.

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Mark Bergin is the Longboat Key Town Hall reporter for the Observer. He has previously worked as a senior digital producer at WTSP, the CBS affiliate in St. Petersburg. Mark is a graduate of the University of Missouri and grew up in the Chicagoland area.

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