Boat motors stolen from Edison Sailing Center, kids program now in jeopardy

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Edison Sailing Center has taught 17,000 kids to sail for the past 40 years. Between Hurricane Ian and someone stealing their engines, it’s getting harder to give kids the experience they deserve.

Hurricane Ian wiped out the center’s southern dock and destroyed nearly everything they had. One of the few things they were able to salvage was seven motors for their rescue boats. The center was keeping them locked up in a trailer next to Joe’s Crab Shack. On Wednesday, one of their workers went to check on the motors and noticed they were gone.

Stephanie Webb is the president of the Board of Directors at the Edison Sailing Center. Even though the center has had motors stolen before, she was even more surprised this time around.

“We were very surprised because everybody’s still in recovery mode and were all trying to help each other. So when somebody comes in and steals something that actually takes away from our kids, there’s that grandma part of me that just wants to go out and put a little bit of hurting on them,” said Webb.

The dock is fenced in, but it has holes. Robert Hellyar is a construction worker helping rebuild Joe’s Crab Shack. He told NBC2 he sees people breaking into the fenced area all the time

“Pretty much daily, we see them and they mess around and damage things, burn things, and stuff like that,” said Hellyar. The stolen motors were 40, 60, and 90-horsepower outboard engines. Replacing them could take as long as 13 months…and about 90,000 dollars. Without them, Edison Sailing can’t bring as many kids out on the water, which is why Webb just wants them back.

“We won’t charge you, we won’t press anything. Just bring the motors back so we can put the kids on the water. That’s what’s important,” said Webb.

This week FEMA is cleaning the floating and submerged pieces in front of the center’s destroyed dock. Webb said this is a step forward and the center can finally start thinking about rebuilding a pier again.

Edison Sailing is still taking kids out on the water with the boats they have. If you are interested, you can visit their website here.

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