‘Sad to see her go’: sailboat owner has one more day to remove his vessel from Jacksonville Beach sand

Captain Luke Rehberg says he’s given up on his efforts to get his 40-foot sailboat back into the ocean. He’s realizing the reality is that the sailboat will have to be taken apart piece by piece and hauled away by salvage crews hired by fish and wildlife officials, who are making the captain pay the bill.

When we asked him what his best memories were of the boat, Rehberg told us, “Standing on the deck and looking out at the water.”

It’s the end of an era for Rehberg of Thomasville, Georgia. He says the boat’s engine failed, it’s sails ripped because they were old and the anchor couldn’t keep the vessel from running ashore in high surf.

“It’s the end of a long watch and the end coming soon is something to be grateful at this point,” Rehberg said.

He’s been living on the boat 24/7 since it came ashore October 23, saying he’s ready for the comforts of heat, air conditioning and dry covering. He says even on rainy days like this, dozens of people try to board his vessel for various reasons, which is why he’s been standing guard.

“There are a lot of people who want to take advantage of you, thieves.” Rehberg also added, “But far overwhelming — it’s been a positive experience, the people of Jax Beach have been positive and helpful, and I’m glad I’ve met them.”

Rehberg says he’s been working hard to make it as easy as possible for salvage crews to remove the sailboat from the beach.

“This used to have two masts, and all the rigging that you can see here that went along with that. I’m going to take down the other one, in other words, have the deck slick and clean so there’s nothing over their head, and nothing to go on the ground or in the water when they get here,” he said.

He’s not looking forward to the bill from the State of Florida, but remains grateful for the experience.

“Sad to see her go, but I’m glad I was able to do what I said I was going to do and stay here until it’s removed and no longer a hazard,” Rehberg said.

Captain Rehberg’s cousin started a Go Fund Me account, she said the funds that are generously donated will be used to pay for state officials to remove the boat. You can donate here.

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