Deputies search for missing boater in Port Charlotte

Published: Updated:
Photo courtesy of the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office

The Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office is working with the Coast Guard to locate a missing and endangered boater on Thursday.

Benjamin R. Hartman, 41, set sail from Charlotte Harbor on Feb. 22 and was last seen leaving the Dry Tortugas on Feb. 27. It is believed he was headed to Key West with a final destination of St. Augustine.

He is sailing alone on a blue and white 31-foot, 1970 blue and white Kenner Sailboat.

Hartman’s mother, Carol Westenberg, has been waiting for her son for nearly a month.

“He’s by himself. That’s the other thing that worries me,” Westenberg said. “He had some boat trouble along the way, but he was going to head through, cut through Marathon, go through the other coast, but we have not heard another thing since.”

Westenberg said her son is very knowledgeable about the water and boating, which concerns her even more now that he’s still missing.

“He’s a marine. He’s taught others how to sail their vessels. So, he does know what hes doing,” Westenberg said.

But despite her concerns, Westenberg is not giving up hope.

“Just hopefully he’s kinda drifted off course and he’s you know somewhere still out there but he should’ve gone up to St. Augustine by now,” Westenberg said.

If you have any information about this case, please contact Detective Stephen Burke at 941-639-2101 or or the Coast Guard.

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