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Judge To Captain Jay: 'Hats Off On The Deal'

John Burki, known as Captain Jay, told a Pinellas County Judge he sold his boat and was unable to move it by the deadline because of bad weather.

A judge told John Burki that their deal was off Thursday during a hearing about fines incurred when his boat became grounded on Gulfport Beach in late June.

Judge Patrick Caddell told Burki during his hearing at the Pinellas County Criminal Justice Center, “hats off on the deal." 

"We had a deal, you and me, your lawyer and these folks. You got a deal; you live up to the deal. That’s an obligation." 

John Burki, 66, known as Captain Jay,  "Promise" out of Gulfport waters by Aug. 22 in lieu of paying $1,674 in fines for having the grounded boat in the swim area of Gulfport Beach after Tropical Storm Debby. Burki plead guilty to 18 ordinance violations on Aug. 16.

Attorney Caitlin Sirico, representing the City of Gulfport, informed Judge Caddell that Burki did not move his boat as per the court-ordered agreement.

The boat is anchored in the bay just beyond the buoys in Gulfport beach. Five weeks ago, the boat was freed from the sand when a group of about 50 volunteers came out and pushed, pulled and lifted the boat out into the bay. Burki could not be there; he was recovering at Bay Pines VA Hospital

Boat is Sold

Burki told Caddell today that he has since sold the boat to a new owner and said they were unable to move it because of "bad weather."

Burki said it was sold to someone named Mike. He did not provide a last name to the judge during the hearing, but called Mike afterward and provided a last name to Patch. Burki said the new owner, Mike Williams, agreed to pay $2,750 and move the boat last week. Burki informed Williams today that he had to move the boat as soon as possible.

Fines Reinstated, Lien on the Vessel

Attorney Caitlin Sirico asked Burki to bring the boat to the Gulfport Marina and give the city the title. That's when Judge Caddell said that there are other steps that need to be taken first. Caddell immediately reinstated the fines and said he would sign the order for a lien against the boat "as soon as it hits my desk."

City Manager Jim O'Reilly expects the order to be signed this afternoon.

“I believe the court explained to Mr. Burki the issue very well, in the fact, that the city did offer him an opportunity to rectify this situation and he failed to take it,” Jim O’Reilly

If Burki fails to pay the fines, the City of Gulfport can begin the foreclosure process and ask the courts to issue the title to the city.

O'Reilly says Burki still has the opportunity to get his boat back. "Ideally, Mr. Burki would reclaim his vessel and sail it to wherever he wants to go and pay his fines . . . . I have no desire to own that boat," O'Reilly said.

Flagged "At Risk"

The boat has been flagged as "at risk" for becoming a derelict boat, by the Gulfport Police Department. Burki has 90 days from his police-issued notice to bring his boat into compliance with the law.

Patch has attached the letter sent to Burki from police on Aug. 3.

Denise Marie September 07, 2012 at 07:59 AM
I wonder if Mr. Burke is being as neglectful to his dog, Dreamer. I know Dreamer needed follow up care with the Gulfport Veterinary Clinic. Caring citizens also donated towards Dreamer's care. If Mr. Burke fails to take care of Dreamer I hope the ASPCA or someone with some authority rescues him from Mr. Bruke.
Bill Church September 07, 2012 at 12:54 PM
These developments come as no surprise to me - as a 24 year boat owner and a 10 year live aboard I can assure you this guy is a homeless derelict who owns a boat - a boat that does not comply with state requirements. An issue that has not come up is the Florida registration - all boats must have an annual sticker - just like your automobile that shows that you have a current registration - no sticker gets you a fine just like your car????
CJ September 07, 2012 at 03:11 PM
Nice job, Judge. Seems like there was a genuine chance this mess was behind Gulfport for real...and soon. If the sale actually took place, it would seem more reasonable for the judge to see if the new owner was going to take care of this. All the judge has done is insure for now this ugly mess is going to stick around longer. I remember the weather on the day Jay was supposed to move the boat. It was generally unknown exactly what Issac was going to do, and it posed a true danger to move any boat that day. Why is this not being taken in consideration. One more continuance by the judge would not only seem prudent, but it would also save a lot of the expense the judges decision will now cause. Just what we need ...a boat sitting in the marina with a lien on it and remaining there for who knows how long. This is getting real stupid, now. If it was 100 years ago, I guess they'd make Jay walk the plank, sink his boat after him...and then toss the dog in also.
Dharma September 07, 2012 at 04:25 PM
do we have any jurisdiction over water? i thought we didnt have it. that it was free be it floating or not due to two tropical storms.
Bill O'Brien September 07, 2012 at 08:38 PM
"The City of Gulfport is established for the benefit of its citizens and shall provide for the health, welfare and safety of those collective persons. Special attention shall be devoted to improving the City's appearance, maintaining public facilities and infrastructure, and ensuring citizen safety and quality of life via a fair and equitable system of citizen involvement and input. Moreover, the City shall provide a positive administration of laws and ordinances governing individual activities and requests. It is the intention of the City not to be an obstacle, but to be a vehicle for citizen's solution to problems and individual needs." This quote was taken directly from the city website. I am a resident of Gulfport and I am sad to see the way this situation with Captain Jay has been treated. I do not know Captain Jay, but have heard of him. I know he has lived in the anchorage with his dog Dreamer. I know that tens of volunteers helped refloat his boat. These things go hand in hand with my feeling of Gulfport. What I do not like, however, is the insinuation that Captain Jay is a "homeless derelict who owns a boat". His boat was his home, and the Gulfport anchorage was one of the few places he could live. Secondly, I applaud the animal lovers who had concerns for Dreamer, but taking the dog away from him...what are you really thinking? This dog and Captain Jay on the boat, that is their forever home.
mtober September 10, 2012 at 12:57 AM
According to another local news source-they were advised by an anonymous informant that "Dreamer ran away" - whatever at means. Also, the night after the judge issued his order, someone moved the boat out of Gulfport waters. M. Church, would you know if that constitutes an action that would be in contempt of the court order? Just curious.
lynn September 10, 2012 at 03:49 PM
Judge Caddell does not even know how to follow his own court orders! This Judge needs to go! He would not know justice if it hit him in the face!

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