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mystery boat

Brevard County officials have posted "Safety Hazard Keep Off The Boat" signs around the grounded sailboat.


Flanked by sea turtle nests, the vandalized Key West "ghost ship" that mysteriously washed ashore after Hurricane Irma will likely remain beached until at least November.

Two yellow do-not-disturb signs alongside the sailboat's half-buried, graffiti-decorated hull indicate that the endangered reptiles recently laid eggs there. Another sea turtle nest lies a few steps to the north.

And Brevard County officials have posted a trio of red-lettered "Safety Hazard Keep Off The Boat" signs around the vessel at Spessard Holland South Beach Park.

Cuki, the beached 45-foot sailboat, will not be removed until sea turtle nesting season ends on Oct. 31 — at the earliest — said Matt Culver, boating and waterways program coordinator.


Culver said the sailboat's ultimate fate remains tied up in the Monroe County legal system. Jeffrey Sundwall, who owns the boat, remains jailed in Key West for sexual assault, tampering with or fabricating physical evidence, cocaine possession and 45 counts of possession of child pornography. He is scheduled to appear in court June 7.


Cuki, the beached 45-foot sailboat


Sundwall wants his boat back. But a private contractor that he hired examined the watercraft and determined that it wasn't worth salvaging, said Don Walker, county spokesman. The fiberglass-hull watercraft was built in 1974, Coast Guard records show.

Irma's waves and wind gusts apparently tore the sailboat from her anchor, and the unoccupied vessel drifted more than 300 miles up Florida's East Coast before running aground at Spessard Holland South Beach Park. A morning beach jogger reported Cuki to authorities on Sept. 19 — back when the boat contained mannequins, electronics, appliances and other items of value.


Cuki, the beached 45-foot sailboat


The following week, Absolute Marine Towing & Salvage, the county's longtime derelict vessel removal contractor, estimated it might cost $24,000 to tow Cuki back out to sea. Since then, drifting sand has partially filled the cabin cruiser — along with beer cans, bottles and other litter discarded by trespassers.

A blue gasoline can now dangles high above the beach, suspended by cables attached to the top of the tilted mast. 

Vandals have scratched graffiti in Cuki's blue and white paint, written messages using black markers, and spray-painted words and symbols on her hull.

Officer Bobby Dube, a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesman based in Marathon, did not have information available Friday on the fate of Cuki.


 mannequins onboard the mysterious sailboat


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