• 'Sunken dreams:' Florida couple raises $11,000 after sailboat sinks

    By: Brittney Donovan , Action News Jax

    Updated:

    A couple has raised more than $11,000 to remove their sailboat after it and everything they owned sank off the west coast of Florida.

    Tanner Broadwell, 26, and his girlfriend Nikki Walsh, 24, share the same goals: live a simple life and travel.

    “We decided that we were going to sell all our things and move to a sailboat in the gulf,” Broadwell said. “What better way than to live everywhere on a sailboat and travel around?”

    So that’s what they did. He and Walsh sold their car and all their belongings and moved from Colorado to Florida with their pug, Remy.

    They stayed with family until they found a sailboat perfect for them: a 28-foot 1969 Columbia.

    “We’re pretty much the second owners,” Broadwell told Action News Jax. “It was everything we could’ve asked for it to be.”

    Broadwell said he and his father sailed Lagniappe from Alabama to Tarpon Springs, where he worked until he had enough supplies for up to four months on the water.

    He, Walsh and Remy set sail for Key West on Tuesday. Broadwell said they spent 48 hours on the water before tragedy struck.

    “We see dolphins. Beautiful day. Then that happens,” Walsh said.

    Broadwell said they were idling through John’s Pass looking for a safe place to anchor overnight when their boat hit something underwater.

    Broadwell said Walsh, who was helping him navigate the boat with a light, was nearly thrown from the deck. 

    Lagniappe’s keel was ripped off, and water began to fill the cabin.

    Broadwell said he tried to steer the boat to safety while Walsh called for help

    “I ran down stairs,” Walsh said. “I’m shaking trying to dial the number.”

    They were rescued as their boat took on more water.

    Walsh and Broadwell returned to the boat the next day to see if anything was salvageable.

    “I was thinking maybe we could go on the boat and take our stuff out, but at that point it was even more underwater,” Broadwell said.

    The couple said they lost everything except a few important papers, but they said they’re not giving up their dreams.

    “I could sit here and wallow in it, but I still want that dream and I still want to travel,” Walsh said. 

    The couple said they’re responsible for getting the wrecked boat out of the water, which could cost up to $6,700. 

    They've raised more than $11,000 to have it removed on a GoFundMe page.

    Broadwell said they're staying with a family member in Jacksonville Beach until they can find another boat and get back on the water.

    "It's going to be cool to make it happen after this horrible loss," he said. "Maybe it'll show people they can do it too. Don’t give up, you know. It’ll work out."

    “It brought us even closer together because this is all I have, my family. The people I love. You can replace things,” Walsh said. 

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