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Missing boater turns up in Tampa day after Coast Guard calls off search

Hillsborough County

The US Coast Guard says an overdue boater was found safe at the Westshore Yacht Club Friday, a day after crews suspended their search. 

74 year old Grant Neie sailed from Cozumel, Mexico to Tampa and was reported missing Sunday by his wife. 

The Coast Guard says Neie’s 38 foot catamaran was adrift and crashing to the sea wall of the marina with Neie aboard. He declined medical assistance, only asking for water. 

The Coast Guard called off search efforts Thursday after there had been no sign of Neie. The Mexican Navy had been searching as well. 

News Channel 8 spoke to Neie at the Westshore Yacht Club Friday afternoon, where he was bemused that anyone had been searching for him. 

“Not a clue,” he said. 

Neie explained that his electronics went out, and he didn’t have any communcation other than an unreliable cell phone with a foreign SIM card. He’s an experienced sailor who could still navigate, so he didn’t panic.

The same can’t be said for his family. 

“There’s some anxiety-ridden people out there that I’m related to,” Neie laughed. 

Neie says when he first set sail from Cozumel, weather was good and he was cruising at a good clip. Then, the winds quit, and he was barely making 5-10 nautical miles a day. He simply assumed when he didn’t arrive to Tampa on time, family and friends would note weather charts and see the winds had not been in his favor for making good time. 

Neie, who is from Ft. Walton Beach, says he set sail for Tampa in the first place to install new equipment he had bought for his boat. He plans to set sail again soon, likely down to the Dominican Republic or Bahamas to meet up with his wife. 

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