Vietnam veteran Tony Veasey used all of his savings from retirement to buy a 41-foot Hatteras, but during his first day on the water in Stuart, Fla., the boat caught fire — and is likely beyond repair.
"I'll never replace it. Never," Veasey said.
Veasey said it was his lifelong dream to finally retire and spend time with his six grandchildren on the water “for a weekend to fish and have fun.” He bought the boat about two months ago from an older couple, he said. The boat was so new to him that he hadn't had the chance to buy insurance.
He was navigating from Fort Pierce to Stuart last Monday afternoon to dock at a friend's house.
"I saw what looked like diesel fuel in the water behind the boat. I was going really slow because it's a manatee zone," Veasey told Channel 5 News. "I shut off the boat. I went downstairs and picked up the engine cover and it was on fire."
Veasey said he tried to put the fire out, but it quickly spread to the curtains and carpet. He had no choice but to jump off and swim to other nearby boaters.
"It meant everything," Veasey said.
He was not injured.