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Drunk passenger drops anchor

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A drunk passenger aboard Holland America Line’s Ryndam released the vessel’s stern anchor as the cruise ship was returning to Tampa from Costa Maya, Mexico, on a weeklong western Caribbean itinerary last weekend.

Although deploying the anchor could have caused significant damage, the Ryndam was unharmed.

The FBI has charged Rick Ehlert, 44, of Thousand Oaks, Calif., with attempting to "damage, destroy, disable or wreck a vessel." That’s a felony charge.

The ship was in motion with about 1,950 passengers and crew onboard at the time of the incident.

A subsequent review of the ship’s surveillance video showed Ehlert entering a restricted work area, donning work gloves and releasing the anchor at 5:30 a.m. on Nov. 27 while still dressed in his formal attire from the previous evening. Ehlert was traveling with his girlfriend.

Once the ship docked in Tampa, he was met by agents of the FBI and the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service and admitted to being drunk, throwing a life buoy overboard and disabling the anchor.

He claimed to own a 50-foot boat that had a similar anchor system.

Holland America confirmed that the details in the FBI affidavit "accurately reflect what happened, to the best of our knowledge."

Wonder what Ehlert’s bar tab was for that night?

— Gay Nagle Myers 

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