BEAUFORT — A vessel that capsized more than five months ago was located Wednesday off Cape Lookout National Seashore.
Area fisherman spotted the Atlantic 57 Catamaran, Leopard, roughly 25 miles off the cape and alerted authorities.
The vessel, which went down 400 nautical miles north of the Dominican Republic Nov. 21, was recovered by Sea Tow Crystal Coast and brought to Beaufort.
Leopard was en route from the Chesapeake Bay to St. Maarten at the time of the capsizing.
According to Dana Catapano, with Sea Tow Crystal Coast managing and marketing, a fisherman had spotted the still capsized vessel around 5:30 a.m. and made radio contact with the U.S. Coast Guard.
"One of our captains, Zack Willis, heard the call and after contacting the fishing vessel that had spotted the catamaran to pin point its location, he responded to the vessel on a 33-foot Kodiac to assist if need be," she said. "He didn't know whether there were passengers aboard."
Upon Capt. Willis’ arrival, he determined the vessel was unoccupied and tied off to it.
"He has been towing it all day," Mrs. Catapano said in a phone interview Wednesday.
He was joined by Capt. Cody Catapano, Sea Tow franchise owner, and Capt. Brian Davis to bring in the vessel.
Mrs. Catapano said Capt. Willis began researching the vessel and determined its origin.
"The Coast Guard in Miami was contacted and they in turn contacted the owners," she said.
The insurance company representing the owners were also contacted and hired Sea Tow to recover the vessel.
Mrs. Catapano said the day's recovery effort had been long and tiring.
"They are now just inside the bight at the Cape,” she told the News-Times around 7:30 p.m. "Capt. Davis has been in the water much of the day trying to attach floats to help right the catamaran."
She said a crane on their tug would be used to help right the vessel.
"They are in calmer waters now that should make it easier to work," she noted.
According to weather reports, a wind shift could create dangerous ocean conditions on Thursday for the work.
Mrs. Captapano said her research into initial Coast Guard Miami reports shows that the catamaran appeared to have encountered a water spout and high winds causing the vessel to flip over back in November.
Three crew members aboard, all experienced sailors, were rescued by a merchant vessel approximately 10 hours after it capsized.
Reports indicate one crew member sustained minor injuries.
She said the crew and others had returned the next day in an attempt to recover the vessel, but an extensive search revealed the catamaran was nowhere to be found.
The vessel was designed by Chris White Designs located in South Dartmouth, Mass.