Mark Sternal had recently purchased the boat in Punta Gorda.
Longboat Key beachgoers may have seen something this week that’s not typical for the island: A sailboat washed ashore.
The boat’s owner Mark Sternal, who lives at the Mark I condos located at 4140 Gulf of Mexico Drive, said he is lucky to be alive after the whole ordeal.
“I’m surprised I don’t have any broken bones,” he said. “I’m surprised I’m not dead.”
Sternal said he and his roommate took an Uber to Punta Gorda to purchase the boat for $3,000. The two then sailed north before docking late Saturday night near Chart House.
“I recognized that drawbridge by the Chart House,” Sternal said.
Sternal said his boat lights and phone battery went dead, cutting off his access to iPhone based navigation.
On Sunday, Sternal and his roommate tried sailing north through the Gulf of Mexico to anchor the boat near his condo.
“We came out to go through the main pass and just could not fight the wind to head north that small distance,” Sternal said. “That’s all we needed to do that small distance. So basically, we’re fighting the wind, the motor kept overheating, the inboard doesn’t work.”
The two tried sailing the boat parallel with their condo, getting in the dinghy to come ashore.
Sternal said a wave caused the dinghy boat to fly into the air, onto the deck and landed on his back. He said he and his roommate have scratches and bruises.
“Luckily, I was somewhat looking at it,” Sternal said. “It caught my eye. I saw it coming. I kind of arched over and it hit me right in the back and put me flat on the deck.”
Sternal said by the time he got things straightened out, the sailboat had reached the sand. Having taken courses at Sara-Bay Sailing School, Sternal said he was more familiar with the Sarasota Bay waters compared to the Gulf of Mexico.
“You wouldn’t be able to tell that I’m a certified ASA sailor by the looks of this, but maybe I need to take a couple more courses,” Sternal said.
One of the boat’s two anchors has broken. There is also a hole in the boat.
“[It’s a] 1969 boat that’s lasted all these years [and it’s] dead at this point,” Sternal said. “I mean, yeah, you can get some kind of repair, but it’s never going to be the same.”
Sternal said he’s called several private companies to have his boat towed. Several of the companies have canceled since Monday, according to Sternal.
“Every single day, even when we came ashore the first time, Longboat Key Police Department was out there to make sure we’re safe and stuff, and they’ve been very helpful,” Sternal said.
After one of the cancelations, Sternal had to call the Coast Guard because he felt endangered while taking his boat from the shore to deeper in the water, thinking he would have his boat towed.
“I’m out here without a life jacket,” Sternal said. “I just thought I was gonna float around until the captain came [to tow me] because I was way out there. I was out there about 30 yards.”
Sternal said he’s going to call around to see what the best course of action is to take.
Throughout Florida, Sternal performs as a musician using the stage name “Marko Coconut.” Since 1999, he’s played at Cha Cha Coconuts in St. Armands Circle. Sternal is planning to play there from 1-5 p.m. Sunday.
“We’re alive, right? I’ve got all of my limbs,” Sternal said. “We’re in good shape. I could still play.”
Sternal has a few original songs produced by music producer Ron Nevison, who has worked with artists like Meat Loaf and Led Zeppelin.
“Luckily, I used maybe four or five out of my nine lives in the past week,” Sternal said of his boating experience.