Fishing boat narrowly misses anchored Shenandoah, smashes yawl

The Shenandoah's yawl was destroyed in the accident.

In this file photo of the Shenandoah under sail, her yawl is visible at the stern. File photo by Ralph Stewart.

Updated 11 am, Wednesday, July 29

A fishing boat headed to Memorial dock in Vineyard Haven harbor about 9:30 pm, Thursday night crashed into a yawl boat that was hanging from the stern of the schooner Shenandoah, which was at rest in the outer harbor.

On Monday, a Coast Guard public affairs officer in Boston confirmed the name of the fishing vessel was Kayah. The Coast Guard was notified but has no involvement beyond notification given the limited nature of the accident and lack of any injuries.

Shenandoah captain and manager Morgan Douglas was not on board when the crash happened, but told The Times there were no injuries. Mr. Douglas said the Shenandoah was undamaged, and as of Thursday afternoon, the Coast Guard had inspected the ship and approved her for use. The yawl had been with the Shenandoah since the ship was built 52 years ago, he said.

The yawl is used to push the Shenandoah, which has no engine, out of the harbor. She was at anchor in her usual spot, just past buoy number six and on the west side of the channel at the time of the crash, harbormaster John “Jay” Wilbur told The Times Thursday.

Mr. Wilbur said the yawl was “fairly splintered” after the crash.

Mr. Wilbur told The Times that the crash was not officially reported to his office, and the participants were not required to report it. Mr. Wilbur was unable to shed any light on why the fishing vessel struck the anchored schooner, a fixture in the harbor.

In a later conversation, Todd Goodell, conch fisherman and captain of the Kayah, explained that he was returning to port after a hard fishing day that began at 2:30 am that morning and just dozed off. Mr. Goodell said he was grateful and relieved that there were no injuries.

The Shenandoah is a non-auxiliary powered square-topsail schooner built in 1964 by Captain Robert Douglas, and is used for private and chartered sailing trips out of Vineyard Haven.