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'Piracy is real': St. Augustine sailboat found 5 miles away, and owners have suspicions

Owners said, "We definitely think that someone pirated our project sailboat."

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Piracy in the Ancient City sounds like a thing of the past.

However, one local couple thinks that’s exactly what happened to their boat.

The sailboat went on a big adventure last Saturday night.  It was moored south of the 312 Bridge in St. Augustine. Somehow, it became disconnected and wound up on its side in Vilano Beach... in one night. 

To get there it had to pass under the 312 bridge, then through the Bridge of Lions, and then out the St. Augustine Inlet into the ocean, going about a mile north along the coast, coming to rest  at the Nease Beachfront Park.  In all it had traveled more than 5 miles along the water. 

The boat has no mast or motor.

So how did it get there?

The sailboat's owners, Dean and Marisa Bales, as well as investigators believe it was most likely stolen. They think the thief towed the boat along the water. According to the Bales, friends saw the boat secured to its private mooring  -- where it usually is -- the night it disappeared.  So the boat's mysterious movements happened all in one night. 

When they found it the next morning, it had a backpack and a broken liquor bottle aboard. Mr. Bales said neither of them drink liquor.

Marisa Bales said, "We definitely think that someone pirated our project sailboat. Piracy is real. Piracy is very real. Yes, we’re quite positive that someone was towing it in the dead of night."

She believes somehow the boat then broke free from the thief or he let it go. 

The owners said police told them real life pirates do look for what they believe to be abandoned boats and then steal them. The owners were able to retrieve it,  but at their own expense.

Amazingly, the boat is not damaged. 

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