MELBOURNE BEACH, Florida – Beachgoers in Florida are scratching their heads after Hurricane Irma washed an empty, eerie sailboat ashore.
The double-masted, storm-tossed boat ran aground on Melbourne Beach without a soul on-board, but with some rather interesting cargo, including a large velvet rose and a mannequin holding a sign, which reads, “The beatings will continue until morale improves.”
“It just looks abandoned and like the pirates just jumped ship and took off,” resident Debbie Manzella told WESH.
Curious onlookers found markings that appear to be from the Coast Guard, meaning the vessel was inspected at sea and was also unmanned while in the ocean.
Authorities do not believe anyone was ever on-board, but rather that Hurricane Irma tore the ship from its dock in hard-hit Key West, then carried the vessel for nearly 300 miles.
“It’s just unreal that something could stay afloat to make that travel all the way up here, but that just tells you how strong the winds were,” Manzella said.
The sheriff’s office traced the owner of the 45-foot boat back to Key West, where he’s currently locked up in the Monroe Couny Jail.
His name and charges were not disclosed.
Typically, a ship’s owner is responsible for the boat’s removal when it drifts away, but in this case, the small town of Melbourne Beach may be temporarily footing the bill to remove the sailboat, along with its strange contents.