-- Tanner Broadwell and Nikki Walsh had been living on a boat in Florida for about a year, with plans to sail to the Keys, but those plans ended abruptly three weeks ago when their boat sank.
On the way through John’s Pass near St. Petersburg, Florida, the Coloradans hit something and their boat quickly took in water, not long after they had set sail for the Florida Straits.
“The boat completely stopped,” Walsh, 24, told ABC News of the Feb. 9 incident. “We have no idea what we hit.”
Authorities had to rescue the couple. By then, Walsh said, most of the boat was underwater. So they grabbed their IDs, some money and clothes, and left the vessel in the water.
Originally from Colorado, Broadwell, 26, and girlfriend Walsh sold almost everything they had last year to purchase the 28-foot sailboat, they said. Their goal was to make it to the Florida Keys and live on the boat there.
Instead, they lost almost everything and had to figure out a way to have the boat removed from the water.
“We had to put the title of the boat into a salvage company,” Walsh said. “So now they’ll take care of it. It costs thousands of dollars.”
The couple started a GoFundMe page to raise the funds to pay for the salvage company, but they still didn’t have a boat and were unsure what to do.
Everything changed, however, when Mark Reinecke, 77, read their story in a local newspaper and offered a solution.
Reinecke, retired and living in St. Petersburg, owned a couple of sailboats and decided to give one of them to the couple.
“These kids just had bad luck and were in trouble and needed some help,” Reinecke, 77, told ABC News. “I’ve had the sailboat since 1985. I used to anchor it on weekends. I’ve gotten my value out if it.”
Like Walsh and Broadwell, Reinecke and his wife originated from Colorado. He got in contact with the couple and they agreed to take it.
“It was so nice of him,” Walsh said. “He had no reason to do that for us.”
Reinecke said he had no intention of selling the boat and that the only reason he charged them $1 was so he’s not liable if something happens.
Walsh and Broadwell examined the boat and while it needs some work before they can put it on the water, they’re hoping to continue their journey soon.
Despite the boat’s sentimental value to Reinecke, he said, it was time to let it go.
“This is like giving your daughter up to marriage,” he added. “It’s something that kind of hurts but in the end it’s for the greater good.”