Man rescued from sailboat during Irene now sits in jail; City warns it will destroy the boat in one week

Posted at 2:51 PM, Aug 31, 2011
and last updated 2012-05-25 15:01:25-04

When Hurricane Irene approached the coast on Saturday, a couple decided to evacuate—by boat.

Michael Calabrese and his girlfriend took their sailboat into the waters of the Chesapeake Bay and had to be rescued when they were stranded on the boat, overwhelmed by Irene’s force.

While the boat still sits on Ocean View beach, Michael Calabrese, the boat’s owner, sat inside of the Norfolk City Jail.

“You know the boat was falling apart,” said an emotional Calabrese.

Police arrested him Sunday night for trespassing at a storm shelter set up by the city. He showed up intoxicated attempting to see his girlfriend who was in the building. She was the same woman he held tight as Irene tossed their Yacht violently in the water like a child’s toy.  

“You know, I believe in God, and God's been with me all throughout my life. Even though I know I’m not his favorite son, but I know he was there that day,” said Calabrese.

“I was estimating that if we could go the speed I know we can go, we could get away from the storm, so we set sail,” said Calabrese.

Unfortunately, that plan did not work. Saturday morning they got stuck in Irene’s wrath of wild waves off Willoughby Spit in Ocean View.

“You can hear your boat crackling and crumbling apart, and the biggest concern is its falling apart while you're in it,” admitted Calabrese.

Rescue crews crowded the beach to help the couple, but they were unable to swim to them because of the waves.

They watched for hours before a big wave pushed them to the shore to safety.

“He put angel’s wings on that boat that day,” said Calabrese.

The city has given Calabrese a week to move the boat or have it destroyed, but Calabrese has no plans of allowing that to happen.

“That's our home. That's where we live,” said Calabrese who also stated that being stuck in jail makes his efforts to get his boat off of the beach that much more of a burden for him.

“Now i only have a few days before the city cuts my boat apart,” said Calabrese.

He says that he needs another miracle today, so maybe tomorrow, he’ll still have a place to call home.

“That's uh-- I mean, because it could have been completely splintered; it should have been! ,” said a tearful Calabrese.