The water taxi taken from Portland Harbor early Wednesday was found badly damaged on a beach in Kennebunk and authorities say the search for the pilot who apparently took it is now classified as a recovery operation.

The missing boat was found at 7:13 a.m. Friday, but there was no sign of Adam Patterson, the missing 30-year-old pilot from Cape Elizabeth who is believed to have taken it.

A person walking on the beach found the boat upside down and partially buried in the sand of Parsons Beach in Kennebunk, about 20 miles south of Portland.

There was no sign of a crime, according to Maine Marine Patrol spokesman Jeff Nichols.

The marine patrol spent two days searching for Patterson and the missing 24-foot water taxi, but suspended the search Thursday night.

The boat was found by a resident who notified the Kennebunk Police Department.


Before that, about 6:20 a.m., David Jones was walking his dog on Gooch’s Beach about two miles from where boat was found and spotted an orange gas container near the seawall.

“My thought was it must have been a spare, otherwise there would be a boat out there without gasoline,” he said. Jones pulled it from the ocean, noting it was about half full of gasoline, and called the regional police dispatch center.

A short while later another walker, this one on Parsons Beach, spotted the water taxi’s hull, authorities said.

The boat’s superstructure, which includes its roof and windshield, were destroyed, though the hull was intact. The contents of the boat and other debris were found along the beach.

The gas tank found on Gooch’s Beach, which authorities believe was from the water taxi, indicates that the boat likely foundered long before it washed ashore.

The marine patrol and a Coast Guard helicopter from Cape Cod searched the shoreline in what Nichols has characterized as a recovery operation rather than a search-and-rescue operation, indicating authorities believe Patterson is dead. Searchers concluded that based on the conditions of the sea and the conditions of the boat, he said.


Richard Mageles, who owns the Cape Elizabeth home where Patterson lived at one point, answered the door there Friday but declined to answer questions.

“We’re not ready,” said Mageles, who has the same last name as Patterson’s wife, Meg Mageles. She hasn’t spoken to the media and could not be reached.

Patterson was an experienced sailor, sailing instructor and captain who has at times lived on a boat. Police were told he had spent the past 10 days living on a small sailboat at Long Wharf in Portland, near where the water taxi tied up, following marital difficulties.

The marine patrol has seized the water taxi and debris as evidence and taken it to a secure location to be thoroughly examined, Nichols said.

The boat belonged to Portland Express Water Taxi, which employed Patterson as a pilot. On Thursday, investigators viewed security video from DiMillo’s Marina that showed the water taxi leaving the Long Wharf area at 3:25 a.m. Wednesday.

Kyle Jacobs, another employee of Portland Express Water Taxi, told authorities he was the last person to use the boat and secured it at 11 p.m. Tuesday with about 30 gallons of fuel on board, which would give it a range of 100 to 150 miles, Nichols said. Jacobs told the Marine Patrol that the boat was in good condition. Patterson was not scheduled to operate it, Nichols said.


At dawn Wednesday, winds were from the northeast blowing 20-30 mph with 40 mph gusts, Nichols said. Seas were 5-8 feet and the National Weather Service had issued a gale warning. David Pascoe, a marine surveyor who has authored several books on power boats, says in an online article, “Small Boat Safety at Sea,” that 22- to 24-foot boats are vulnerable to 2-foot waves because they are more likely to take on water than a larger boat. The seas Wednesday morning were twice that.

The water taxi was a 24-foot Eastern, according to the company’s owner, Gene Willard. It was equipped with a 150-horsepower Yamaha outboard.

The marine patrol was notified at 9 a.m. Wednesday that Patterson and the boat were missing, Nichols said. On Wednesday, authorities searched offshore waters in the area from Portland to Yarmouth, Phippsburg to Harpswell Sound, and from South Portland to the Kennebunk River.

Portland police say Willard reported Patterson as missing at 2 p.m. Wednesday. No one else was believed to be aboard.

Water taxis typically arrange fares by phone, transporting no more than six passengers between the mainland and the islands of Casco Bay. They also can be chartered for tours and special events. The boats aren’t routinely inspected by the Coast Guard, and while they must have an adequate number of life jackets, flares and fire extinguishers, they aren’t required to have an emergency position-indicating radio beacon, which activates a distress signal when immersed, said Lt. Scott McCann, Coast Guard spokesman.

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