Boat adrift yields clues of fire but no skipper
The story of a California man whose boat was found Sunday adrift off Kauai grows stranger by the day for Hank Zeevat.
Zeevat, of Puhi, Kauai, spotted the 1979 Catalina sloop while fishing about 20 miles east of Kauai.
As he got closer he noticed it was a sailboat with no mast and part of the sail hanging in the water.
"I'm thinking, 'God, something's wrong.'"
He called out but no one answered.
Maneuvering closer, he peered in and noticed that the boat was empty and the cabin was in disarray.
The Coast Guard said the owner, Darrin Bunker, 42, sailed out of Dana Point, Calif., for San Diego on Oct. 3.
Zeevat towed the boat, named Bug Trap, to the Coast Guard pier in Nawiliwili, where he first climbed aboard.
"It was an eerie feeling going on somebody else's boat you don't know, not knowing what happened to the guy," he said.
He saw bags of chips and crackers and 12 or so cases of Corona beer.
"The boat inside looked as if somebody picked up the boat, shook it really hard and then put it back in the water," he said.
There were signs of a fire in parts of the cabin, he said.
Kauai Police and Fire departments both ruled out foul play. No human tissue or blood was found on board, said Coast Guard Senior Chief Petty Officer Kai Christensen.
Despite the fire, the sailboat remained in good condition, and the Fire Department determined the fire was probably accidental though it did not determine a cause.
Christensen said the fire probably started with a cigarette on a couch, burning a blanket and bedding. The trouble likely began early in the voyage, given the amount of food that remained, he said.
In the refrigerator, three beers were missing from a six-pack.
Also found: computers and computer games.
Zeevat said he found a business card for Bunker's online business, Posse Entertainment, which was trying to set up a multiplayer online role playing game, "Dragons & Legends."
Christensen said if Bunker fell into the water, hypothermia would have set in within hours.