In early-morning move, Seeker is trucked to new lot

The 90-foot wooden scow had to navigate state bureaucracy and Beach Road.

Mark Barros held up a utility line as the Seeker moved up Beach Road. — Photo by Michael Cummo

Just after sunrise Tuesday, Bob Hayden and his crew of three from Hayden Building Movers of Cotuit managed the seamless move of the 32-ton, 90-foot-long schooner scow Seeker from the lot owned by Ernie Boch Jr. near Five Corners in Vineyard Haven where it has been under construction for the last three years, to temporary quarters on Ralph Packer’s property about a quarter of a mile east on Beach Road.

After weeks of fits and starts over permitting requirements, the Hayden crew arrived in Oak Bluffs from Falmouth on the 4 am Patriot. Minutes after Mr. Hayden and his crew drove up to the Boch lot and announced, “We’re here,” the rumble of an engine broke the stillness of the morning.

Dale McClure of Watercourse Construction in Vineyard Haven started up his 10-wheel tractor that was already hooked up to an I-beam trailer that had been constructed beneath the unfinished boat. It wasn’t yet 5 am.

The sun was scheduled to rise at 5:18 am, but the overcast sky was already slate grey at 5 am when a state police officer directed a Tisbury policeman in a patrol car to close Beach Road at Five Corners. Massachusetts Department of Transportation (DOT) Vineyard supervisor Edward Panek blocked the other end of the road with his truck.

It took a little time to maneuver the 24-foot-wide boat back and forth out of the lot where it had sat for almost three years. Once on Beach Road the Seeker moved along smoothly like a float in a parade, the blue flashing lights of the state police car leading the way.

Members of the moving crew used long fiberglass poles to lift low-hanging utility wires above the boat as it moved down Beach Road at a brisk walking pace. The spectacle attracted a crowd of about 20 spectators. Many recorded the move. Two bystanders had small video cameras strapped to their heads.

Prior to the move, Vineyard videographer Dan Martino placed a small video camera on the upper rail of the Seeker to add to his 100-plus hours of video documentation of the project.

By 5:25, only 25 minutes after it began, the move was complete.

Mr. Hayden said the load weighed in at 40 tons, including the trailer. The boat will remain on the trailer until it is ready to be launched.

Boat owner Ted Box built the boat as a teaching project. He said the plan is to create a teaching boat aboard which children can learn about boats and the sea.

Mr. Box was pleased that the move went so smoothly. He said he has not been granted much time before it must be moved from the Packer lot. His plan is to complete as much of the hull as he can before launching the Seeker into the Lagoon.

Mr. McClure said Mr. Packer has plans to move the boat down to the Lagoon boat launching area by the end of August.

Tuesday morning workers began cleaning the Boch lot of leftover debris.

The move began in earnest last month when Mr. Boch told Mr. Box that he must vacate the lot he had occupied for three years and Mr. Boch, a seasonal Edgartown resident, offered to pay for the move.

Mr. Hayden’s crew began preparing the scow for its move, but they ran into a reef of permitting hurdles. DOT policy limited the width of a boat to be moved on a state road to 16 feet. The Seeker is 24 feet wide.

Last week, DOT said it would allow an exception and granted a permit but scheduled the move to begin at 8:30 am. A sign was placed in front of the lot that cautioned people to expect traffic delays beginning at 9 am.

Concerned about the disruption of traffic flow at that time, and the arrival of the 9:30 am ferry into Vineyard Haven, local officials pressed DOT to reschedule the move at an earlier hour.

DOT Island superintendent Edward Panek spoke to his superiors and convinced them that an early morning move would be the best scenario. And that is how it all worked out.