MADEIRA BEACH, Fla. — A Colorado couple found themselves stranded with their pug named Remy, a cellphone and only a handful of their belongings after their dreams of a life on the sea came crashing down.
"We got so tired of that lifestyle, of doing things to make people do the things they don't want to do," said Tanner Broadwell, 26, via the Tampa Bay Times. Broadwell and Nikki Walsh, 24, decided to sell all of their belongings and save money to do what they really wanted: travel the world by sailboat.
Tired of the corporate world, the pair spent two years preparing for their dream. They paid $5,000 for a 1969 Columbia sailboat in Alabama, fixed up the vessel and named it Lagniappe — meaning “bonus” in Creole.
“Like the 13th donut in a dozen,” he explained. “It’s something extra for you.”
The pair learned how to sail from Broadwell’s dad and moved to Tarpon Springs, Florida. The couple lived at the docks for a while before embarking on their journey.
"We met a bunch of good people. Everybody gave us a nice farewell off the docks," Broadwell said.
The couple began their trip at Anclote Key on Tuesday. They passed by Clearwater the next day. By the time they pulled into John’s Pass at the end of the day, the trip was over.
The channel leading to the port was dark and foggy when the keel of the Lagniappe was ripped off by something underwater. Walsh was nearly thrown from the deck as she was helping Broadwell guide the boat with a light. Though armed with GPS and maps, the sandbars in the area are said to shift frequently.
The boat began to flood.
Walsh phoned Sea Tow for help, a service similar to AAA. She also only had moments to grab essentials, which were floating in the water.
"I'm just standing there in awe," she recalled. "I just lost everything I ever owned. I see my things floating away and I can't get to them."
Sea Tow told the pair they would be there in 40 minutes. When they arrived an hour later, they ran into an issue getting to the boat.
With the Lagniappe sinking in water that was only about 9 feet deep, Sea Tow was unable to reach them in the shallow water. Already wearing their life jackets, the couple and their dog were forced to jump overboard.
The couple was stuck on the side of the road without money and with very few belongings. Broadwell was even without a shirt. Broadwell’s mother helped them get an Uber, which took them to a cheap motel.
On Thursday, some of the people they met in Tarpon Springs arrived to help them. Broadwell’s mother also traveled from Jacksonville to help.
“People came out of nowhere,” Walsh said. “Everyone just started showing up to help us.”
Despite the help, they learned by Friday that their problems were only continuing.
With only $90 to their name, they learned that they would have to spend up to $10,000 to retrieve their boat.
But all is not lost, especially their dream.
“I’m not going to give up now. I’m going to get another boat down the road,” Broadwell said.
"We can't just give up on our dreams," Walsh added.
The couple has considered staying with Broadwell’s mother while they look for work.
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