Witch of Endor pulled from harbor


On Friday, March 9, crews worked for many hours to hoist the heeled-over ketch Witch of Endor from alongside a dinghy dock by the Steamship Authority’s Vineyard Haven terminal — a spot it drifted to and grounded on during last weekend’s powerful nor’easter. Co-owner Pascal Albanese and workers from Offshore Engineering prepped the vessel ahead of a large crane that rolled into place at about 8:30 am. Professional diver Heidi Raihofer helped secure hoisting straps beneath the hull of the ketch, and also assisted harbormaster John Crocker and Fire Chief John Schilling in deploying a boom. The ketch was lifted in stages under the direction of Offshore Engineering president John Packer. Thousands of pounds of water had accumulated inside the ketch, and were pumped out at different phases of the hoisting process to lessen the weight. Shortly before the vessel was pulled from the water, the crane operator said its static weight was 35,000 pounds. Just after noontime, the Witch of Endor rose from the harbor, crossed the Steamship terminal railing, and hovered over blocks and bracing spools. Previously pinned to the Tisbury Dinghy Dock with its keel dug into the harbor bed, the ketch’s damage to its port side from a week’s drubbing against the dock’s pilings became evident — a jagged edge of splintered wood and smashed fiberglass that ran the length of the gunwale. Beneath this the hull appeared undamaged.

The ketch was lifted and initially set ashore akilter. Offshore Engineering personnel worked hand in glove with Martha’s Vineyard Shipyard employees to fit and refit stabilizing jacks and oak blocks beneath the ketch until it could be stabilized upright.

The ketch remained mounted on jacks and blocks over the weekend until various pieces of chrome rail could be removed from its deck to meet minimum height requirements for transport. The mastless, railing-free ketch was hauled away by a Martha’s Vineyard Shipyard trailer truck on Monday afternoon and deposited on blocks and stays at Tisbury Wharf Co., where it nearly fell over Tuesday morning before extra shoring measures were taken.