A Captain is Lost

Dear followers, it is with heavy hearts that Keith’s brothers and sisters share Keith’s obituary.  We will be updating this blog with more of Keith’s sailing adventures, as transcribed from the many letters he sent to us over the years.  A few of us will attempt to match Keith’s writing prowess with our own as we record the home-bound journey of the S/V Saga from Georgetown, SC, where her captain was lost, to Bock Marina in Beaufort, NC where she rests while Keith’s family plots her next course.

— Kelly Wyatt

Keith Edward Sullivan

June 4, 1968-January 12, 2014

KeithKeith Edward Sullivan, 45, of Emerald Isle, NC, died January 12, 2014 by accidental drowning in the very waters he loved sailing. Keith was born June 4, 1968 in Houston, Texas to Janet (Jan) Lynch Sullivan and John (Jack) Francis Sullivan, who predeceased him.

Keith attended Cary High School and continued his education at Wayne Community College where he received an Associate’s Degree in Airplane Mechanics. But the pull of adventure was too strong and Keith went on to travel the country working odd jobs for many years before heading back to North Carolina. He then purchased his first sailboat, Soulshine, and traveled the Atlantic coast. Keith lived aboard his sailboats for many years, most recently S/V Saga, before his death. His sailing blog may be viewed at http://www.carolinakeith.com.

Keith is survived by a daughter, April Sullivan of Marathon, Florida; brothers Kevin and wife Stephanie of Hong Kong, Kerry and wife Hana of Sydney, Australia, Kenneth and partner Amy of Emerald Isle; sisters, Kelly Sullivan Wyatt and husband Wesley of Apex, and Kimberly Sullivan Oestereich and husband Bill of Apex. He will also be remembered by many nieces and nephews.

A memorial service will be held at St. Andrew the Apostle Roman Catholic Church, 3008 Old Raleigh Rd, Apex, NC 27502 at 11:00 Thursday, March 13. The family will receive visitors at 10:30 at the church.

In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the family for a service project that is being planned in memory of Keith. The family will purchase survival whistles to hand out to boaters to encourage safer boating. Donations may be sent to Kelly Wyatt, P.O. Box 4481, Emerald Isle NC, 28594.

The family would like to express their appreciation to the good people of Georgetown, SC, the Georgetown County Sheriff’s Office, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources and the local boating community for their support and assistance during the days Keith was missing.

By Sullivan Family

14 comments on “A Captain is Lost

  1. To the Sullivan family & whom it may concern, I was very upset to hear of Keith’s disappearance & even more so to know that he is now gone. In the very short time that I found myself his friend we shared the stories of our lives & found that we both had much in common. On the water there isn’t much a sailor would not do for one another & he & I both seemed to agree that we had been living a way in which the old sailors & adventurers do. He is always in my prayers & I think of him often during my days sailing. I’ve been to so many places & have anchored in so many ports but I have never met a man like him before, & I’m sure ill never meet another. If there’s anything I can do please let me know. I can be reached at CJ.drake10@aol.com or by cell 3057538226 Sincerely, CJ Justin Drake

    Sent from my iPhone

  2. Thanks for your kind words. Please point others who knew Keith to this blog. We hope to hear from more of the people who got to know our brother during his sailing days.

  3. So sorry for your loss. We met Keith briefly in Belhaven as he was heading home for the holidays with the family. He made quite an impression on us and we spoke of him often and will remember him fondly. Our thoughts and prayers go out to your family.

  4. Keith was a dear friend from about1983 I always can remember how much laughter he had braught with him where ever he went, he wa.s someone I was proud to have called a friend,we had so many good memories,wich I will cherish,love ya bro,may you have peace in heaven

  5. I first met Keith in Beaufort, NC, his boat SAGA had caught my eye amongst the many fancier yachts anchored….I rowed the dink over for a gam and was promptly handed a beer, a sure way to win my admiration. After a long chat it was clear we had like minded ideas on sailing vessels and their usage, our wakes were to cross many times over the following years. In one instance he overtook me in Adams creek as I tacked against tide and current with engine troubles, SAGA pulled close to and offered a tow across the Neuse, I was enjoying myself and declined with appreciation, we met up that afternoon in Oriental and this time I handed him a beer. Most recently I pulled into Silver Lake, Ocracoke, and there was SAGA, we hung out for several days but then I had to leave for a few days and Keith offered to watch my boat during my absence. The wind ended up blowing 30 knts for 4 days with heavy rain. Keith updated me every day on the status of my boat, thus relieving my anxieties as well as rowing out in hard weather twice to bail my dinghy, which I should have pulled on deck. In closing, Keith sailed out when the weather cleared and when I returned to Silver lake, I missed him by a day. All was well with LITMUS. We kept in touch over the summer months by phone but those days in Ocracoke would be the last time I saw him. He will be missed. Prayers to the Sullivan family.
    Jay Bonneville S/V LITMUS

    • Jay, it is nice to know that Keith had, in addition to his birth family, a sailing family — one he could count on to help him out and one who could count on him. He was a lucky man to.have TWO families who loved him!

  6. Hi, Kenny here, one of Keith’s brothers. Thank you for the kind words and wonderful stories about his life! It is so nice to hear from his sailing friends. Do any of y’all know the guy Keith bought the “Trawler Trash” hat for? Keith talked about him a lot, but I can’t remember his name. Keith bought him a very nice embroidered hat when he was in Beaufort NC that I found on his boat and I have saved for the “Trawler Trash” friend…I would like to make sure he gets it. Any help would be appreciated.

  7. The first time I ever saw Keith was out at Cape Lookout in the summer couple of years ago. I was anchored beside him but a good bit away. Saga’s classic lines and ketch rig caught my eye. I thought what a nice boat. Although I didn’t meet him out there, which I regret, It didn’t take long to end up meeting him at the Dock House in Beaufort. I remember the day I met him. I walked in and at the end of the bar was this guy about my age and stature engaged in flirtatious conversation with the staff smiling and laughing having a good time. I sat down a couple of stools to his left and he turned and said Hi. The first thing I noticed was his extended brim hat with the term “Sailboat Trash” embroidered across the front. I thought to myself this guy has to be cool. I liked Keith immediately. We seemed to have a lot in common although he was much more well-traveled and had many more years of sailing under his belt. He seemed like a very happy soul. We talked about boats and other common interests. I asked him many questions about his adventures and we talked and drank for hours. I really admired the fact that he lived on his boat and was so free to come and go as he pleased. I will miss Keith and seeing Saga out in the creek. My thoughts and prayers go out to him and his family.
    ~Scott Neely S/V Snap Dragon

  8. Hello Keith was like family to me. He taught me about the stars he was the smartest man I know. He was an amazing friend. He will be forever missed and forever loved.
    From S/V Aly’s Ark

  9. Well, Keith was a true friend to everyone.
    My wife and daughter and I set out for our adventures by sail.
    We sailed into Little Washington NC and met a nice young friend named Keith.
    We had a great three days with him.
    Then it was time to move on. Three weeks later here comes Saga into the Port of Oriental and we were so happy to see them both.
    Keith came with us to look at a bigger sail boat.
    Well a couple weeks later we had a guest coming to visit ( Irene )
    I talked with Keith and we both decided to go to South River for a few days.
    I told Keith to go ahead we will be a couple of hours behind.
    Well as we were sailing I heard Keith hailing islandgirl, his motor died and one of his sails broke..he was headed back to fight Irene alone.
    I tied him up to Islandgirl and we went on our way.
    After we set all our anchors we visit and had lots of fun. We met another sail boat there and they threw a Hurricane party.
    By the way the other sail boat now is in South America and they thinking of Keith now to.
    After Irene died we all sailed our way and Keith and I stayed in contact by phone.
    Every now and then Keith and I would catch up and spend time on each others boats drinking beers and telling our stories and being kids again showing our new toys to each other.
    (( Keith we had plans to go to Ocracoke this summer….well we are still going and you will be with us…))
    Keith was an Awesome friend a family member to all of us sailors he is missed so much on the water and he will live forever on the waters of North and South Carolina
    Keith was very respectable towards my wife and daughter.
    Thank you Keith for being a family to us all.
    You will allways be with us on the water and in our harts forever.
    We love you Keith
    The crew of S/V Island girl.

  10. Carry On.
    Its been a bit hasnt it? I still remember the last time I saw Keith. It was over Christmas & new years Just before His passing. I was the first one here to post. I am now in key Largo refitting my new boat & teaching a crew of 10 on the water & trying to pass on some valuable sailing knowledge. Not sure if any of the Sullivan family will see this but I still Hold Carolina Keith High in my thoughts & memories & never forget the time he & I had together as sailing mates. His marinated pork chops we made one night as I dinghyd in with baguettes & wine ( beer for Keith of course) & on christmas eve in the harbor walk restaurant when no one was dancing & chubby Checker came on & he & I together danced the twist in front of the entire crowd to entice the people to dance!!! It was one heck of a sight! Him being so small & me about 6 foot 7. We walked out of the front door & looked at each other & agreed we both would never go there again! LMAO! Today I was telling a couple young men cruising stories as I always do.. I must be getting old & of course my Fond memory of Keith came up in telling. I still miss him. But hopefully hes watching me now & sees all the good I do not only in my life but with our young new sailors. Keith I wish you were here. These guys would love you. & to the Sullivan family please know Keith is still alive in my heart.
    CJ Drake
    SV Carry On

    • Thanks for your kind words.

      We will report on the latest in the “life of Saga” soon.

      Many will be happy to know that she had a fresh coat of bottom paint, she was put in the water and actually sailed a good bit to her new home in the Norfolk area.

      My older brother has her, and plans to restore her. She is back out of the water because she has a few leaks that need to be addressed.

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