By PAUL NUTCHER (paul.n...@news-jrnl.com)
NEW SMYRNA BEACH -- Boat slip 14B at the Smyrna Marina has been empty since
about noon Thursday, the last time fellow boaters saw Jacques Pierre Gamache
at the marina on North Riverside Drive.
Now they fear the 67-year-old New Smyrna Beach resident disappeared from the
boat that occupied the slip, the 39-foot sailboat found drifting Friday
morning in the Atlantic Ocean 29 miles southeast of Ponce de Leon Inlet.
Gamache's next-door neighbor, Carlton Frost, said Volusia County sheriff's
deputies came to Gamache's Doris Drive home in the Silver Sands subdivision
Friday night and posted a "keep out" notice on the door. And then the FBI
began interviewing neighbors.
"He was an everyday ordinary neighbor," Frost said. He said Gamache, a
retired construction worker, told him he was born in Canada and raised in
Massachusetts, was a Korean War veteran, and took trips to gamble in Biloxi,
Miss., and Las Vegas.
The sailboat was spotted adrift by a commercial fisherman about 10:45 a.m.
Friday with no one on board.
The Coast Guard towed the boat to its Ponce de Leon Inlet station at New
Smyrna Beach and began a search of the area where the boat was discovered
but found no one in the water.
Officials with the agencies investigating the incident still do not know who
was operating the boat, if passengers were on board or what has happened to
Special Agent Bill Hulburt of the FBI said Monday an active search for a
boat captain or passengers has been suspended.
Officials with the Coast Guard and the FBI in Jacksonville would not release
the name of the man last seen on the boat, but boat owners at the marina
said it was Gamache.
They want to know what happened to the French-Canadian they know as
"Anytime there's a sailor missing at sea we want to know why," said Tim
Richards, who also docks his boat at the marina.
Richards said Gamache bought the white Irwin boat named Concession and
equipped with green sails -- about two years ago.
Others at the marina Monday said Gamache liked to sail to the Bahamas and
Cuba. They also said he's had trouble with the law.
"When he came back from Cuba last year they threw him in jail," said
dockmaster Tom "T.R." Richards.
A check of Volusia County court record shows Gamache, who has lived on Doris
Drive since the 1970s, faces trial Nov. 13 on a felony criminal mischief
charge in connection with an incident Sept. 1 at Hacienda del Sol
condominiums, 4301 S. Atlantic Ave.