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Sailor turns up safe
Man didnt know he was missing
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Forsyth County News
The daughter of a 68-year-old Forsyth County sailor thought to have been lost at sea is relieved he’s en route to the mainland.

The U.S. Coast Guard ended their search Saturday when Charles Collins was found at a marina in Nassau, Bahamas.

Collins set sail on his 34-foot boat Oct.15 from Puerto Rico, headed for Titusville, Fla.

His daughter, Teresa Brown, said the family got worried after they didn’t hear from him by Oct. 29.

“He did have some equipment problems he had to stop and repair and the conditions were poor,” said Brown, who lives in Forsyth County. “I can laugh at it now, but at the time you can imagine what we were thinking.”

Brown said she talked to her father Saturday. He told her that after he left Puerto Rico he stopped for about two days on the open sea to fix his rudder. About the first of the month, three days of stagnant winds made for slow travel.

“He made the decision at that point to motor the rest of the way to the port in Nassau,” Brown said. “He got to the marina around 3 p.m. Friday.”

The Coast Guard had put a hold on Collins’ bank accounts, and was alerted when he tried to buy provisions at the marina.

Collins had no idea anyone was looking for him.

“One of the scenarios we came up with, we were convinced he found a little senorita and was out on an island just enjoying the high life while we’re up here freaking out and calling the Coast Guard and everybody that will listen to us,” Brown said.

“That scenario popped up, too, and I would’ve welcomed her into the family with open arms.”

Brown said once Collins was 90 miles outside of Puerto Rico, he couldn’t get a radio signal, so he turned it off. In addition, he couldn’t use his cell phone because of roaming.

He had an emergency beacon, but it wasn’t properly registered.

“It was like everything that could’ve possibly happened, other than that he was not hurt, happened to him,” she said. “But he was found.”

This is not the first time Collins has encountered trouble on the ocean.

Under pressure from the family to stay closer to home, he headed to the mainland in June from Puerto Rico on what was to be his last Caribbean voyage. He had rudder problems and called the Coast Guard for help.

Brown said her father flew home in July. His plan was to return to the boat, get provisions and have it repaired so he could sail it back to the mainland.

Brown said Collins is now headed to Florida.

“His intentions now are to come back to the mainland,” she said. “He’s not going to be sailing the Caribbean anymore. He’s done, but he is going to continue to live on the boat. He’s just going to be on the coasts of Florida and South Carolina.”

Brown said her father sold everything and bought the boat in 2004. In 2005, he traveled to the Caribbean, where he has been since.

“He was just going to the different ports and enjoying the life of a sailor,” she said.

Brown said her father will sail north through the Bahamas and then turn east where he will travel up the coast of Florida to Titusville.

“He said he’ll be in constant radio contact. He will not turn his radio off,” she said. “Plus the Coast Guard was going to contact the Puerto Rican cell phone company and they were going to try and get his cellular phone opened for roaming.”

She said he also is getting his emergency beacon registered correctly.

Collins didn’t give his daughter a time frame for his arrival, but she expects he will be delayed by Hurricane Ida, which passed through the area this week.