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Rare 80-Foot Luxury Sport Yacht Sinks Off Florida Coast

Sunseeker yacht sinking Florida
Photo- U.S. Coast Guard

A rare Sunseeker Predator 80 sport yacht sank off the coast of Florida on Saturday, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

Two people were rescued after calls came in around 11:35 a.m. roughly three miles (4.8 km) off St. Augustine Beach. A St. John’s County vessel took one person to the Vilano Boat Ramp for transport to hospital. That person was listed with “minor injuries” and considered stable, according to rescue officials.

The owner of the vessel told authorities they struck an object in the water which caused the boat to begin to list.

Pictures of the sinking went viral on social media as boaters and rescue officials attempted to save it.

A crew from the Coast Guard Station in Mayport, as well as a team from St. John's County Fire & Rescue, were sent to assist but were unable to prevent its sinking.

The event marks another busy boating year in Florida. Due to its popularity as one of the best boating hotbeds in North America, plus its year-round open water, events in Florida continually make headlines within the boating community.

Last year, a 65-foot luxury yacht became stranded in a backyard in Cape Coral for 6 months after Hurricane Ian. A 92-foot Viking sportfishing yacht was also stuck on Delray Beach for several days back in November.

The Sunseeker Predator 80 is highly prized by boating enthusiasts despite no longer being in production. Many boating afficionados recognize the Predator design from the 2006 James Bond film Casino Royale. A larger Predator 108 was featured in the film with a custom paint scheme and with the same moniker.

The yacht that went down over the weekend, which carried the name Atlantis, appears to be an early 2000s model. The Sunseeker Predator 80 was built in the United Kingdom during its production phase.

It features an LOA of 81'8" (24.9 m) with a beam of 19'11" (6.09 m) and a draught of 6'7" (2.0 m).

The 'Atlantis' as she was taking on water / Photo- U.S. Coast Guard

It also offers sleeping for 8 guest across 4 staterooms, as well as quarters for two crew members. Her two Caterpillar diesel engines made her one of the fastest sport yachts ever produced with a top speed of 50 mph (80 km/h).

After the events on Saturday, a hazard to navigation was broadcast to alert mariners of the yacht's position, according to the Coast Guard. In a rare twist, officials followed up with a statement on Monday explaining what they believed caused the sinking.

According to CBS 17, the Coast Guard initially said Atlantis struck an object in the water. However, St. John’s County officials have now identified the object as a dredge pipe piling. They also released a photo to increase public awareness regarding its location and the potential danger to the public.

The piling is a square piece of floating metal that denotes the location of a dredge pipe below. It includes a light and signage that states "Danger Submerged Pipeline."

In the photo released by St. John's County Fire & Rescue there appears to be a portion of fibreglass embedded along one edge of the piling.

Another photo taken as the vessel was sinking showed a large section of the hull and keel torn open directly under the centreline of the boat.

The Coast Guard also stated the owner of Atlantis intends to salvage the vessel.

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