Persistent no'theaster claims victim
Fierce northeast winds, gusting to more than 40 miles per hour, forced a sailboat ashore Monday, near the R.M. Packer Company tank farm in Vineyard Haven. In Edgartown, six boats, most of them tied to piers in the outer harbor, were reported damaged, two of them perhaps significantly enough to be total losses.
There was no significant damage in Oak Bluffs. "It remained more north than northeast," said Harbormaster Todd Alexander. "Here there's a huge difference."
The mishap in Vineyard Haven illustrates a growing problem of abandoned boats in local waters.
The blue-hulled cruising sailboat, approximately 29 feet long, was anchored off the Beach Road causeway before it was blown ashore. Gale force winds were forecast for the period. That area is completely exposed to north and northeast winds, making it the least protected anchorage in the harbor during a northeast storm. Other boat owners anchored in that area moved to safer anchorages before the storm arrived.
The boat that washed ashore has been anchored in the same spot for more than a month.
"From our perspective it seemed abandoned," said assistant Tisbury harbormaster John Crocker. "We didn't see anyone doing anything."
A town bylaw requires boats at anchor to be checked at least once every 24 hours. There was no registration number on the vessel, and no name or hailing port on the stern.
Earlier on Monday, harbormaster office personnel boarded the boat to remove a sail that was unfurling, creating a greater chance the boat would be damaged. But the boat, secured on a single anchor, broke loose and washed up on the beach, where it was pounded by surf and winds throughout the day.
The harbormaster determined it was not a danger, and the boat remained on the beach as of yesterday afternoon while the town tries to track down the owners.