Good Samaritans aid couple whose boat sank in John's Pass

By Angie Angers, Reporter
Last Updated: Monday, February 12, 2018, 10:34 PM EST

A couple who lost everything when their sailboat capsized and sank in John's Pass on Feb. 6 is now looking forward to better days, thanks to the help of a great many good Samaritans.

  • Nikki Walsh, Tanner Broadwell were going to sail the Caribbean
  • Boat struck something underwater in John's Pass, capsized
  • Couple also faced with removing the boat from the channel themselves

Nikki Walsh and Tanner Broadwell didn't have a home or a car -- just their 28-foot sailboat and the open water.

"To just bring everything with you and not have to go back, just go one direction," Tanner described.

The two had spent nearly a year preparing for their latest adventure, a months-long voyage through the Caribbean. Nikki immersed herself in boating lessons with local captain Ray Irvin.

"They were very capable! They were knowledgeable, the knew the markers," said Irvin, describing the couple's training.

Nikki Walsh and Tanner Broadwell aboard their sailboat. (Photo courtesy Nikki Walsh and Tanner Broadwell)

But nothing could prepare them for what they experienced on the second day of their journey through the gulf. They left Tarpon Springs early Wednesday but the winds were calm and the trip to John's Pass took longer than expected.

As the two approached the shore, it was already dark and they hit something under water.

"They thought they could make it here, but they really had no idea how tough John's Pass is," Irvin said.

Their boat capsized and quickly took on water. The couple jumped to a row boat and watched as everything they owned and had worked for sank to the bottom of the channel.

"I mean I was shaking, I was like 'Tanner, this is it... I'm losing everything." Nikki said.

Not only did they lose everything, but the Coast Guard informed them they would have to pull the boat out too. The entire process of towing and disposing of the boat would cost close to $10,000.

With so little left to their name, they started a crowd funding campaign online, hoping that someone would help their sunken dream.

Just three days after posting the campaign, more than 300 people had stepped in to help, with a rolling total of more than $13,000.

Some people the couple knew, but others were complete strangers.

"I feel so blessed! I feel -- I mean, people do care! and there are good people and positive people," Nikki said.

Now they will be able to not only dispose of the boat they loved, but start saving toward another.

The accident, they say, is just another chapter in the book of life.  

To learn more about the couple and their adventure, visit their GoFundMe page: https://www.gofundme.com/new-sailing-life.

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