Runaway mega-sloop extracted from Edgartown pier

The wounded sloop Mass Transit 105 at anchor in Katama on the evening of March 7 alongside the tug Sirius, the vessel that freed it from a pier. — Rich Saltzberg

As the second of three March nor’easters (so far) began to lash the Vineyard last Wednesday, a composite crew from Tisbury Towing and Transportation, Aquamarine Dockbuilders, and the Edgartown Harbor Office freed the 105-foot sloop Mass Transit 105 from the Edgartown pier it smashed onto during the fierce nor’easter of March 2.

After the top of a piling and other woodwork was chainsawed away, the extraction took the tugboat Sirius pulling at full throttle to extract the massive sloop, Capt. Paul Bangs told The Times. Up to the point it pulled away, at the pinnacle of high tide, it looked doubtful the vessel would come loose at all, he said.

“It was a real fight,” harbormaster Charlie Blair said. Based on an adjuster’s preliminary account, Blair estimated the damage to the pier, which belongs to Edgartown Books owners Jeffrey and Joyce Sudikoff, at $20,000 excluding wiring and plumbing.

That Wednesday afternoon, Mass Transit 105 was towed into Katama Bay, where it rode out the next storm at anchor. Bangs kept the Sirius alongside the sloop a short while before motoring back to Vineyard Haven, in what he described as a rough ride.

In a letter to The Times, Mass Transit 105 owner and builder Nick van Nes took umbrage with the newspaper’s portrayal of himself, his sloop, and the conditions that caused the vessel to break free. He also expressed his gratitude to Bangs, Tisbury Towing and Transportation owner Ralph Packer, Aquamarine Dockbuilders owner Steve Ewing, as well as Blair and his deputy, the recently hospitalized Michael Hathaway.

Reached by telephone Wednesday, Van Nes said damage to the pier will be covered by his insurance.

Mass Transit 105 has a hole on the freeboard presently sealed with a patch that needs to be repaired promptly, he said. Bangs told The Times last week that if anybody can repair the hole, Van Nes can.

The vessel remains in Katama, triple-anchored, Van Nes said, but such anchorage is vulnerable because storm season isn’t over. “My hope is to get back on a mooring as soon as possible,” he said.