CLEARWATER (FOX 13) - The search continues for a Clearwater man whose sailboat washed ashore in North Carolina. Rick Tomlinson's vessel was found Monday morning, but so far there's been no sign of him.
Tomlinson, 82, was sailing hundreds of miles from Clearwater to Maine. He was traveling solo - something friends say he does every year.
But the tides turned Monday when Tomlinson's boat, named "Fulfillment," was discovered aground in Hatteras, North Carolina. Coast Guard crews began scouring the water by helicopter and boat, looking for any signs of the missing mariner.
The Coast Guard says Tomlinson left a marina in Riviera Beach on April 28. What happened between then and now is unclear.
"When I heard that his boat had washed ashore and he wasn't on it... what in the world could've happened," said Steve Hodges, Tomlinson's friend and neighbor.
Hodges has been nervously checking for updates, hoping for any news about Tomlinson
"A lot of people think what he did was dangerous but not to Rick," Hodges said. "He's a very accomplished sailor and the craft was rigged for him to operate it by himself with pretty much ease."
Hodges said adventure and salt water are in Tomlinson's blood.
"If he said, 'I'm going to sail the thing across the Atlantic Ocean,' [I would say] 'Okay, see you when you get back,'" Hodges said.
"I'd just give anything to know what circumstances he found himself in that he couldn't deal with," Hodges said. "I know he's a strong swimmer and strong person and wouldn't give up easy."
Neighbors are holding onto hope he'll find his way home, guided by the green and red lights of the channel markers, just like the ones Tomlinson displays outside his garage.
"I hope they find him on a raft or life preserver or something, somewhere because we need him," Hodges said. "I just hope we didn't lose him because he is a fabulous individual."