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The Stuart News (US)
Stuart, Florida, newspaper
October 12, 2004

Storm-tossed boat aground in yard of singer Tori Amos' Indian River home

By Bill DeYoung
The Stuart News

SEWALL'S POINT -- The last thing rock star Tori Amos and her parents expected at the singer-songwriter's vacation home on the Indian River was a scene from Gilligan's Island.

On Sept. 5, during Hurricane Frances, a 42-foot twin-engine cabin cruiser destroyed Amos' dock and planted itself, on its side, in her back yard.

With large chunks of the outer skin torn away, the wounded boat came to rest looking like the S.S. Minnow of situation-comedy fame.

Amos, who has been at her house in the English countryside for most of this year, isn't laughing. Five weeks passed before the mystery vessel was identified.

"If the system continues to fail us," Amos said Monday in a terse e-mail from England, "then I'm sure our local builders could always turn the boat into firewood."

The singer's father, Edison Amos of Port St. Lucie, looks after the property while Amos is away. Since the boat first appeared, he said, no one -- not the owner, not the insurance company, not a salvage company -- had contacted him or his wife, Mary.

"If my boat crashes on your property, and certainly if my boat is missing, I'm going to try to find out where it is," he said.

"And then I'll notify you and tell you, 'Please don't worry, we have begun the process with the insurance company. And we will try to get the boat out of your back yard.'"

Known for platinum albums Under the Pink, Little Earthquakes and Scarlet's Walk, Tori Amos bought the property on her mother's advice, sight unseen, in 1995. She spends fall and winter there with her husband, Mark Hawley, and their 4-year-old daughter.

Her father, a retired Methodist minister, said there was considerable damage to the grounds, which he was hoping to have cleaned up before the family returns from England next month.

"What I'm after is just to go through the process to have the owner step up and take some responsibility -- that's all," he said. "We've all been hit by these storms, so we want to be patient; we want to cooperate; we want to go through the process."

Because the bow was buried in the remains of the dock, the license number was unreadable; however, an identification number stamped into the hull was traced to Alphonsus and Sherie Zobec of Palm City.

"I never knew they were looking for me," said Sherie Zobec, who owns Gold Coast Roofing with her husband. "Every time we go there, nobody's there. Nobody ever put a note on the boat, 'Call me, here's my phone number.' It goes both ways."

When Frances hit, the boat, called Dealer Ship, was moored four docks up the Indian River from Amos' property. Alphonso Zobec said he inspected it Sept. 6 and called his insurance agent.

"The insurance company's been there like 10 times," Zobec said. "They're trying to figure out how to get it out. They assured us the dock is going to be taken care of.

"It's sitting on a stump, so they're going to cut it apart and take it out piece by piece. It can't be dragged into the water and floated."

Sherie Zobec said she and her husband were well aware their boat had made landfall in a famous singer's back yard.

"I wouldn't even know how to contact the woman, but I would have assumed that the insurance company would have written a letter," she said. "But I don't fault the insurance company. That boat wound up in a really strange place."

Still, she said, "If your boat winds up in Mick Jagger's yard, wouldn't you think he'd have people to take care of things for him?"

Bill DeYoung can be reached at bill.deyoung@scripps.com.


This article also appeared in other local papers.


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