‘Gigantic’ sloop Mass Transit 105 collides with pier

The Tisbury Towing and Transportation tug Sirius alongside the grounded and pier-bound mega-sloop Mass Transit 105 in Edgartown Harbor. — David Welch

The 105-foot sloop Mass Transit 105 parted its mooring line and blew across Edgartown Harbor into a pier during the storm, sometime between Friday evening and Saturday morning. The vessel remains hung up on a pier and hard aground, harbormaster Charlie Blair said. Seen from afar, Mass Transit 105 may seem afloat, but Blair said this is an illusion — the keel is dug into the harbor bed, and at low tide the sloop heels over.

The sloop dragged two 6,000-pound mooring blocks partway across the harbor before the line chafed through, dock builder Steve Ewing said.

Mass Transit 105 was on Ewing’s mooring just inside Can 9, he said. Edgartown would not allow the sloop’s owner to use a town mooring for reasons of liability, Blair said.

“There’s some significant damage,” Ewing said. The sloop has “a piling sticking through it above the waterline.”

The sloop is owned by Islander Nick van Nes. The vessel is the sum of Van Nes’s 30-year odyssey of building and refining it, Blair said. Mass Transit 105 may have racing lines, but it’s essentially a pleasure yacht, he said. As Times columnist Gail Gardner wrote last August, the sloop was first constructed in the 1980s “in the shadows of the World Trade Center,” and is “gigantic.”

The New York Times reported in 2011 that Van Nes built what he estimated to be a $500,000 mast for Mass Transit 105 at a cost of only $8,000. Blair estimated the mast soars well over 100 feet. The New York Times also reported Van Nes salvaged the sail for the sloop from trash, and that he delights in using discounted, secondhand parts.”

The sail is enormous and heavy, about 1,600 pounds, Blair said.

Blair said he intends to offer Van Nes help Tuesday morning in securing Mass Transit 105 from any further damage through use of a 300-pound sea anchor. As The Times went to press Wednesday, the Tisbury Towing and Transportation tug Sirius out of Vineyard Haven was docked by the sloop in preparation for an extraction operation. Blair said he expected the tug to wrest the sloop free at about 3:30 pm, when the tide is favorable.

Nick van Nes could not immediately be reached for comment.