82-year-old man swears his sunken boat home will sail again

The vessel was swamped by Hurricane Irma, but Olin Hester vows the boat will sail again.

Olin Hester has lived a long time on his sailboat the Yakataga 2. He bought it in the 1970's, and for the last 37 years, he's called it home.

"The boat means everything to me," he said, "but it's not everything, ya know."

In the past decades, Hester rode out 15 hurricanes onboard the Yakataga 2 but when Irma came towards Florida, the 82-year-old made the decision to evacuate.

When he returned after the storm, his boat and home had sunk.

"She was held up by 10 dock lines, but she was about 4 feet underwater," he said.

According to him, the water level receded before Irma made landfall, causing the Yakataga 2 to tilt on one side. When the water came rushing in, a metal bar on the side was caught on the pier allowing water to gush into the boat's cabin.

"It sank," he said. "It was just full of water and couldn't float."

But, even at 82 years of age, Hester is not giving up on his boat.

"This is a new beginning," he said Wednesday while picking through the waterlogged remains of his home.

"My friend used to have a boat called Phoenix," he said. "Rising from the ashes ... I guess this is more like coming up from the sea ... but Yakataga will sail again."

With the help of neighbors and a Gofundme page opened in his name, Hester has already raised his home from the water and is working on making her seaworthy again.

You might think an 82-year-old would take this as a sign to retire and relax, but not Hester.

"I told a doctor I was gonna live to 140," he joked. "I got a long way to go yet."

© 2017 WTSP-TV


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