Decker, 51, bought the sloop last fall with the intention of living on it, police said. He was reported missing six months ago when the Coast Guard discovered his swamped dinghy tied to the boat’s stern near the mouth of the fast-flowing Merrimack River. His dog was tied to a park post across the river. Officials do not know exactly what happened to Decker, but they theorize he fell overboard and drowned when his dinghy line became entangled in the sailboat’s propeller and he attempted to free it while en route to a dock to retrieve his dog.
In the weeks following his disappearance, friends attended a memorial service at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church to pay tribute to the man who loved sailing, medical technology and Web design. A few days before the ceremony, Decker’s friends met at Cashman Park and placed a wreath near the spot where his Siberian husky, Toleman, had been found.
The Newburyport Yacht Club is located off Merrimac Street, about a 20-minute walk from downtown, is a fixture of the Newburyport shoreline. Its marina has 192 slips off three docks and its season typically begins on Memorial Day. It is only a few blocks west of another shoreline landmark, the North End Boat Club.