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Owners visit once-adrift Regulator in North Carolina

It’s a story of durable boatbuilding, if nothing else.

After two men were swept into the sea near Massachusetts’ Nantucket Island by a large wave in August 2008 they last saw the Regulator named Queen Bee bobbing away from them as they swam a mile and a half back to shore.

The boat bobbed all the way to Spain. Now the Queen Bee is back and former owner Scott Douglas and his brother-in-law, Rich St. Pierre, went to see her in North Carolina for the first time since she floated away in the storm.

"To me, it's emotional," Douglas, 59, of Lyme, Conn., told the Associated Press in a telephone interview. "It's something I've been compartmentalizing pretty well. I've not lost any sleep. I've not had nightmares. And I won't after seeing the boat. But to relive that day ... the boat takes me back to that day and the experience Rich and I had."

That day was cool, cloudy and windy. The men decided to try to get through the inlet to the Atlantic in hopes that conditions were calmer there. But they weren't. A rogue wave, 6 feet above the boat and breaking, knocked them overboard.

In January, the Coast Guard had news that the center-console fishing boat made by the North Carolina builder had been found in Spain.

Lt. Joe Klinker, spokesman for the 1st District Coast Guard in Boston, said it's rare for a vessel to drift from the eastern U.S. coast to Europe, but not impossible. He surmises that the Queen Bee traveled north into the Gulf Stream and got caught up in the currents of the North Atlantic. The 1st District got the call about the boat partially because it said "Nantucket" on the hull, he said. Officers there put together the story after talking with Douglas.

Spain could have claimed the boat, but didn't want it, Joan Maxwell, co-owner and president of Regulator, told the AP. So Regulator, which employs 73 people and makes 120 boats a year, eventually reclaimed ownership after Douglas said he didn't want it back.

Regulator plans to take the Queen Bee to shows as evidence of its boatbuilding expertise. Maxwell hopes it eventually will end up at the shipwreck museum in Nantucket.

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