"It was like an unreal thing. I have been numb ever since," said Lucille Walbridge Jansen.
Her brother, Sixty-three year-old 63 Robin Walbridge, is missing at sea. He was the captain of the famed HMS Bounty, which sank off the coast of North Carolina after it proved to be no match for Hurricane Sandy.
"As of right now we still have the air and surface assets committed to bringing him home safely," said U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Michael Patterson.
The 180-foot, three-masted ship left Connecticut last week enroute to its home in Florida. Walbridge and the crew were aware Sandy was churning in the open waters of the Atlantic. Walbridge posted this on the ship's Facebook page Sunday as he tried to steer the ship east of the storm:
"We are just going to keep trying to go fast and squeeze by the storm and land as fast as we can. I am thinking that we will pass each other sometime Sunday night or Monday morning"
By Monday morning, the Coast Guard had been called to rescue the 16 member crew aboard the sinking ship. But only 14 members could be saved. Another crew member was later found dead. Walbridge is still missing.
"He was in his survival suit, on the ship, ready to get onto the lifeboat -- making sure the last two were getting onto the life boat when the ship just sunk out from underneath him," Walbridge Jansen said.
Walbridge grew up on a small family farm in Montpelier. After graduating from Montpelier High School he went to work at Lake Morey in Fairlee where he fell in love with boating. Walbridge than operated an independent trucking company in Barre for a decade before he finally decided to move south to pursue his dream of becoming an international sailor.
"I think he would find Lake Champlain too confining," Walbridge Jansen said.
Not long after moving to Florida, Walbridge became the captain of the HMS Bounty, which was built for the 1962 film "Mutiny on the Bounty." It also appeared in the 2006 blockbuster "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest."
"I don't really question his judgement, he knows the ship, he's been captain of her for over 20 years, and nobody knows her better than him," Hansen said.
Walbridge's sister realizes her brother is most likely dead. She hopes his body is found, but knows her brother would want to be buried at sea.
"I would like to have it for closure, but even if they didn't, it deserves to go down at sea," Walbridge Jansen said.
Walbridge Jansen says her brother stopped by her house in Massachusetts about two weeks ago to drop off a calling card before heading south. At the time she was unaware of Hurricane Sandy, but for some reason she had a gut feeling the trip was going to go wrong.
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