Boat missing from Cayman washes up in Florida

The Amanzi Baba was last seen on 11 March, before washing up on a Florida beach in late April.

When Leigh Fagan last saw her 13-foot Boston Whaler boat on 11 March, it was moored at a buoy in the sea in front of her home in South Sound. Last week, it showed up again – more than 460 miles away on a beach in Florida.

After Fagan was alerted at work by her parents, who were visiting, that her boat was no longer attached to the buoy, she and her family began their search along the shoreline for the vessel, the Amanzi Baba – a combination of Zulu and Afrikaans words meaning ‘water baby’.

Not knowing whether it was stolen or had broken free from its moorings, she contacted the police marine unit, who noted the boat’s serial number. She also placed an appeal on the Real Women of Cayman Facebook page, asking its members to be on the lookout for the boat.

She said a number of people on the site suggested that it had likely been stolen, but Fagan thought this was unlikely as it would have been taken “in broad daylight”.

“I guess stranger things have happened,” she said.

She said the boat had been securely fixed to an anchor and to the mooring buoy.

Leigh Fagan and her children enjoying a day out on the Amanzi Baba. – Photo: Courtesy of Leigh Fagan

For weeks there was no word on Amanzi Baba, but then she got a call out of the blue.

“On Tuesday last week, I received a call from a US number… from a man who said he was a police officer,” Fagan told the Cayman Compass. “He asked me ‘Do you own this boat? It has washed up, can you come and remove it?’

“When I asked him where, he said Sunny Isles in Florida. I told him I couldn’t come get it. He said, ‘Why not?’ and I said I don’t live in Florida. ‘You’re not local?’ he said, and I told him I definitely wasn’t local, that I lived in the Cayman Islands.

“There was silence on the phone after that.”

The boat’s propeller and its hull were covered in barnacles, suggesting it had been drifting at sea for some time.

The officer later explained that he had gotten Fagan’s name and telephone number after entering the boat’s serial number into the Florida police system.

Fagan said she asked him to send her some photos of the washed-up boat, and she inquired about its condition.

“It needs some work,” he replied.

When she got the photos, she realised “some work” was quite the understatement.

“It looked like it had definitely turned upside down and was submerged in the water. The console’s been ripped from where it usually is. Maybe another wave movement righted the boat and it washed ashore,” she said.

Its propeller and hull are covered in barnacles, suggesting it has been floating out at sea for some time.

“The boat is done,” Fagan said.

The Amanzi Baba before it was lost at sea.

She said someone from a sailing group in Florida had expressed interest in taking the boat’s hull.

The vessel is relatively new and is insured, Fagan said. The family bought it in December 2018.

Fagan, originally from South Africa, said her children wanted to give it an African name – hence Amanzi Baba. “It’s a little baby boat,” she said, which she and her husband often used to take the kids out on the water. “We used it a lot,” she added.

Grand Cayman is about 460 miles from Sunny Isles Beach, Florida, as the crow flies. If carried on currents, the boat is likely to have rounded the western side of Cuba before veering north west and along the western coast of Florida.

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