ST. LOUIS — One man’s dreams of sailing to the Gulf of Mexico likely came to an end overnight Sunday at the bottom of the Mississippi River.
Michael Weber’s 44-foot sailboat, the “White Widow,” had been stuck on the Chain of Rocks since Oct. 5 after he missed the exit for a navigation canal and ended up lodged on the dam north of downtown St. Louis.
While insurance companies haggled over how to remove the vessel, rising water from weekend storms apparently dislodged it. Dustin Witt, parts manager for Port Charles Harbor in St. Charles County, said he assumed it sank. Harbor workers were out about 8 a.m. Monday to hunt for the boat but found nothing, Witt said.
The only thing found at the surface after hours of searching Monday was the boat’s dinghy floating downstream, a Coast Guard official said.
Weber, who lives near Hell, Michigan, told the Post-Dispatch last week that he and his girlfriend began their trip Sept. 28 from Chicago. The former Marine and retired businessman said he’s been boating and sailing for years, mostly in Lake Michigan or an ocean.
Weber blamed insurance companies for delaying recovery of his boat, likely costing him most of his possessions and a dream to spend a year sailing to the Florida Keys and the Bahamas.
“They had an opportunity (to retrieve it) the second day with no damage,” he said. “If they would’ve just gotten it together, my dream would not be now on the bottom of the Mississippi River.”
He had been awaiting the arrival of a barge, a crane and a tugboat to lift his boat off the rocks.
Despite his frustration, Weber is staying optimistic.
He and his girlfriend are planning to embark on another adventure. This time, they’ll stick to land.
Weber said they’re looking into buying a Mercedes sprinter motorhome and plan to visit Yosemite, Badlands National Park, Mount Rushmore, the Teton mountains and other national landmarks.
St. Louis will not be on their list of destinations, he said.
“This is a material loss, and I’m old enough and mature enough that you don’t let this (stuff) bog you down,” he said. “I have another dream sitting right in front of me.”
Michael Weber shares the tale of how his sailboat got firmly stuck in the Mississippi River near the Chain of Rocks Bridge.