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Coast Guard searching for missing boaters aboard Palm Beach-based sailboat near The Bahamas

Marty Sue Widrick and Sven Gunnar Karlsson last seen on Dec. 16, officials say
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Posted at 10:56 AM, Dec 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-22 17:18:25-05

PALM BEACH, Fla. — The U.S. Coast Guard is searching for two missing boaters near The Bahamas who were last seen nearly a week ago aboard a sailboat that appears to be based in Palm Beach.

Officials said Marty Sue Widrick, 51, and Sven Gunnar Karlsson, 72, departed Matthew Town in The Bahamas on Dec. 16 for a voyage to Providenciales in the Turks and Caicos islands.

Widrick and Karlsson were aboard a 50-foot sailboat named "Get Nauti," the Coast Guard said.

The back of the boat reads "Palm Beach," which likely references its hailing port.

"The boat disappearing 100% like that is very unusual," said Gayle Clark, a friend who's known Karlsson for a decade.

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Coast Guard searching for missing boaters aboard Palm Beach-based sailboat near The Bahamas

According to Clark, the couple, who she believes lives in Tampa, was supposed to meet Widrick's daughter in the Turks and Caicos, but never arrived.

Clark said the Coast Guard called her at 8 a.m. Tuesday, asking when was the last time she saw and spoke to Karlsson.

"I said, why are you asking? And they said that [Sven] was supposed to meet up with some people in the Turks and Caicos about a week ago and that he had not contacted anybody since that time," Clark said.

Clark added that Karlsson is an excellent, experienced, and careful boater who would not take chances on the water.

"He's a boater at heart," Clark said. "For them just to have disappeared makes me think, perhaps, they've drifted away off course."

Clark admitted she's worried that travel restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic may have something to do with the couple's disappearance.

"We were all saying, do something or don't go down there in potentially third world countries without knowing what you're, with the situation that's happening with this worldwide pandemic," Clark said.

If you have any information about the whereabouts of Widrick and Karlsson, call the U.S. Coast Guard at 305-415-6800.

"I'm praying. If anyone could come through, anything like this, that he's somewhere and we're gonna find him," Clark said. "Hopefully the outcome is gonna be a good Christmas present for us all."