Couple’s SAILBOAT Sinks TWO DAYS After Departing When Keel Falls Off | Exclusive Interview

Nikki Walsh and Tanner Broadwell bought at $5,000 1969 Columbia 28-foot sailboat to sail around the world. Their trip lasted 2 days. In the end the boat sunk to the bottom of the ocean. They departed Tarpon Springs, Florida. By 9PM on Wednesday, February 7, 2018, their boat was at the bottom of the sea. They were able to save their dog, a dinghy, and their IDs before abandoning ship to a SeaTow.


The boat lost its keel when they were motoring 2 miles per hour in the John’s channel off Tampa Bay, Florida. The boat filled with water within 10 minutes as water seeped up from the bottom of the boat and rested on the sea floor in 3-feet of water. The next day the boat turned on its side. Tanner said that someone is offering to give them a new boat, but they have started a $10,000 GoFundMe campaign to pay their salvage expenses and buy a new floating home. They estimate the salvage costs at $6,700 and they have no insurance. The 24-year old woman and 26-year old man lost their life savings. The link to that campaign is below:
The 49-year old boat had plenty of electronic and paper charts for the area. It only had a 6-horse power outboard for power, which worked until the boat sunk. It is somewhat common for old sailboats to have keel bolts give way and for the keel to fall off if they are not inspected regularly.
Nikki and Tanner learned to sail from Tanner’s dad and by sailing on friends’ boats. They bought SV Lagniappe in Fairhope, Alabama near mobile. Tanner and his Dad sailed the boat to Destin, Florida where Nikki sailed the boat to Panama City, Florida. From Panama City, Florida the three people and one dog sailed the 49-year old boat for 3 and a half days offshore to Tarpon Springs, Florida in June 2017. Nikki and Tanner spent $5,000 fixing up the boat until they departed for Key West, Florida in February. They spent one night at anchor before disaster struck and their beloved sailboat sunk, wrecked, and was a total loss. They used to live in Colorado before living aboard their sailboat in Tarpon Springs.


One lesson from this disaster and the wreck of the Tanda Malaika, whose captain Dan Govatos was a guest of the Slow Boat Sailing Podcast, is that entering an unfamiliar harbor at night is a bad idea. More cruisers should heed that rule of thumb.
Tanner says she idolizes the crew of the YouTube channels Sailing La Vagabonde and Slow Boat Sailing Podcast guests Sailing SV Delos. Tanner was wearing a Sailing La Vagabonde t-shirt when their boat sunk near Tampa Bay.

Photos from Nikki Walsh’s GoFundMe campaign and Facebook profile were reproduced with her permission.

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Copyright Linus Wilson, Vermilion Advisory Services, 2018

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