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Mystery at sea: Boat found, man missing

January 9, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
An Aliso Viejo man set sail on his dream voyage, only to get lost at sea.The Coast Guard found the boat, but no one was on board and the owner is missing.

On Oct. 3, 42-year-old Darren Bunker left a Dana Point harbor and set sail for San Diego on a 30-foot sailboat he had purchased two months earlier. The game designer from Aliso Viejo had said it was his dream to live on a sailboat.

But Bunker never made it to the San Diego Harbor. Instead, the sailboat was discovered on Sunday 19 miles off the coast of Kauai.

The man who sold Bunker the boat suspects the novice sailor got off course.

"It doesn't surprise me that the boat ended up there because he definitely got caught in one of the systems," said Narik McArthur.

The Coast Guard towed the rebuilt Catalina sloop named The Bug Trap to shore. The mast was torn loose and the cabin was slightly damaged by a fire. Bunker's laptop computer was inside the cabin, along with cases of beer, supplies and cigarettes.

Hawaii police and fire officials have ruled out foul play. They say the fire appears to have been accidentally started.

The original owner of the boat, McArthur, has a theory about what happened to Bunker: "I don't think he was out on the deck or fell overboard or anything like that," said McArthur. "It happened as a result of the fire."

Officials in Hawaii say this is still an open investigation, but at this point they believe Bunker is lost at sea.

Orange County officials say despite the fact that Bunker had been missing for the last three months, no one had filed a missing persons report.


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