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2 Canadian sailors sentenced for torching sailboat off Washington coast

Coast Guard members aboard the USCG Steadfast battling the fire on the “Tarry-A-Bit” (Photo: U.S. Coast Guard)

SAN DIEGO -- Two Canadian sailors have been sentenced to 2 1/2 years in federal prison for intentionally torching their sailboat in the ocean waters off the Washington coast.

Prosecutors said the U.S. Coast Guard boat Steadfast was on patrol in late October came in contact with the 39-foot "Tarry-A-Bit" about 200 miles off Willapa Bay. But as the Steadfast approached the boat, two men on board set the boat ablaze, then tied the rudder so the boat would spin in circles, making it difficult to fight the fire, prosecutors said.

The two 31-year-old men, Emerson Rome and Bradley Wise, then jumped into the frigid Pacific Ocean, prosecutors said.

They were rescued by the Steadfast crew members moments later.

Meanwhile, other crew members on the Steadfast tried to douse the burning sailboat, but it the flames were too much and the boat eventually sank.

During the ensuing investigation, clothing worn by the men tested positive for meth and, according to their plea agreements, the two set the boat on fire to prevent the Coast Guard from boarding. However, with the boat sunk, the Steadfast was unable to recover any drugs from the debris.

Rome and Wise were each later convicted on a charge of Conspiracy to Commit Violence Against Maritime Navigation.

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