Captain: Finding Missing Teens' Boat Was 'Amazing' Luck

He says he was deeply moved by story of Florida boys
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 25, 2016 5:51 AM CDT
This combination of photos provided by the US Coast Guard shows Perry Cohen, left, and Austin Stephanos.   (US Coast Guard via AP)
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(Newser) – A Norwegian ship captain says it was an incredible "stroke of luck" that he discovered the boat of two teenagers lost at sea last July, the AP reports. Havard Melvaer was in his office aboard the huge Edda Fjord supply ship last month when he stepped outside for fresh air and spotted the 19-foot boat, the Palm Beach Post reports. Nobody else on the 16-person crew spotted the boat, and Melvaer says he would have missed it if he hadn't stepped out at that exact moment. "You kind of think a little bit and try to understand the concept of how big it really is," he said. "It's amazing. We kind of felt like it wanted to be found." The captain says that after the boat was hoisted aboard, he Googled "missing fisherman" and was stunned to discover that it belonged to Austin Stephanos and Perry Cohen, both 14, who left Jupiter Inlet, Fla., in it and never returned.

Melvaer tells the Post that he and his crew treated the boat, which is being shipped to Florida, as very precious cargo. "I'm a parent myself, so I can identify with the situation," he says. "I've been boating since I was a kid as well." Items found inside the boat, including Austin's iPhone, have been returned to the US. Austin's father, Blu Stephanos, said in a statement that he received a heartfelt message from the captain, explaining that he's the father of three boys and was deeply affected by the story of Austin and Perry. "He went on to say that, since recovering the boat, his entire crew had thought a lot about the boys and said, 'I think they will follow us in our hearts and minds for the rest of our lives,'" Stephanos said. (Read more lost at sea stories.)

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