BAR HARBOR, Maine — After two days of searching by area rescue agencies and volunteers, the body of a Freeport man who vanished while piloting a small boat across Frenchman Bay washed up late Thursday morning in front of a property on West Street.
Workers erecting a tent on the front lawn of the Maine Sea Coast Mission spotted the body of John Myers, 56, floating nearby in the water at around 11 a.m., according to officials. He was wearing a life jacket when he was found.
According to Maine Marine Patrol, which is heading an investigation into Myers’ death, the body has been sent to the state medical examiner’s office in Augusta for an autopsy.
Marine Patrol Officer Tom Reardon said Thursday that it likely would take several weeks to officially determine how Myers died. The recovery brings to an end two days of frantic searching for Myers, who disappeared Tuesday afternoon after setting out from a Hancock boat yard in a motorized, 12-foot aluminum skiff. Myers is believed to have been on his way back to the village of Salisbury Cove, where he owns a summer home.
Myers’ boat was found capsized floating in the bay near Bald Rock Ledge at about 3:45 a.m. Wednesday, more than a mile away from where his body later would wash up by the shore. According to Reardon, a gas can with gasoline in it was found with the overturned boat.
Myers was reported missing late Tuesday afternoon after he failed to make a pre-arranged phone call, according to officials. Myers was supposed to meet a friend and then travel to dinner in Ellsworth, but he never called the friend to let him know he had made the five-mile trip back home, local police have said.
After receiving the missing person complaint, the Coast Guard searched for Myers around the clock, at times using a helicopter and a Falcon jet in the effort. Maine Marine Patrol, Bar Harbor officials, firefighters from various towns on the bay and others joined in the search on the water and along the shore.
Phil Johnson, owner of Hancock Marine, was one of the last people to see Myers alive Tuesday when Myers dropped off a small sailboat at Johnson’s boatyard. Myers had sailed across Frenchman Bay from his home on Spruce Point to deliver the sailboat, towing behind him the skiff he would use to try to get back home.
Johnson said Myers told him he was concerned about making the return journey. The wind was blowing from the northwest that day, Johnson said, and Myers was worried about having to fight against the wind with his small, 4-horsepower motor once he rounded Hancock Point.
“He was concerned once he got around the point how windy it would be,” Johnson said. “He could have left his skiff here and been given a ride home. There’s always somebody here. I don’t understand if he was nervous why he would ever even leave.”
Johnson said he was focused on getting Myers’ boat out of the water and did not see Myers depart when he cast off for the trip back toward Bar Harbor.
The small, 24-foot day sailer Myers had dropped off on Tuesday sat propped up nearby in the boatyard as Johnson spoke. Johnson said Myers had planned to come back in a few days to pick up a few things from the boat and to make sure it was covered up for the winter.
Johnson said he didn’t know Myers that well, but that he liked him. Myers was unassuming enough that Johnson did not know he was a physician until he heard news reports that he was missing, he said.
“He mentioned he had just retired and was enjoying his retirement,” Johnson said. “He was a very nice guy. It’s kind of a shock.”