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Fishing pier damaged by blown-away boat in Sarasota

The boat, which measured around 40 feet, broke off from its mooring and crashed into the Tony Saprito Fishing Pier, breaking off part of its railing.

SARASOTA, Fla. — It was a very windy day out in Sarasota County because of Tropical Storm Nicole.

The winds caused a boat to break away from its mooring across the bay. The boat then crashed into the Tony Saprito Fishing Pier and broke off part of its railing.

A team of eyewitnesses, some of whom were from the Sarasota Sailing Squadron, worked to tether down the flyaway boat. 

"The trimaran broke loose from its mooring just off the Sarasota Sailing Squadron and blew down this way with the storm," said Allen Stanifort, one of the eyewitnesses.

The waves kept bobbing the around-40-foot trimaran named Ripple into the pier's structure causing more damage.

According to Stanifort, the squadron called the owner when they realized the winds had broken the boat loose from where it was moored. The owner arrived in a speed boat and was able to tow the vessel away to the 10th Street boat ramp. 

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Pieces of the vessel were left behind, continuing to bob in the waves and be retrieved when weather conditions were more favorable.

"Any time you've got to 30, 40, or 50 mph winds, be sure there is a potential for boats to break loose off the moorings or off their anchorage," Stanifort said.

The section of the railing that broke off was left lying on the pier's walkway.

Just last April the pier reopened after a $1.4 million dollar upgrade.

The damage to the vessel will also cost a lot of money according to Stanifort who has a similar boat himself.

"I'm from the sailing community so anytime you see or notice a boat in distress, it's a sad situation to be in. I feel very sad for the owner," he said.

A city official came out in the evening to inspect the damage after parks and recreation crews set up barricades and orange cones. A structural engineer is also expected to visit the site on Friday to assess the damages and cost of repair.

In the meantime, the pier is closed to the public till further notice, and people are advised not to cross the barricades.

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