Trawler wreckage washes onto Vineyard shores

Harbormasters stumped as the Coast Guard and Environmental Police point to Hyannis.

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Wreckage from a wooden trawler has washed up in Edgartown, Falmouth, Oak Bluffs, and Vineyard Haven. Harbormasters were initially stumped as to where it all came from. The bow came ashore on West Chop while a section of ribs and planking rode the surf onto State Beach along with other flotsam. Tisbury Harbormaster John Crocker examined the bow Tuesday with Tisbury Police and had no idea where it came from or what happened to the vessel. Edgartown Harbormaster Charlie Blair responded to State Beach on Wednesday and immediately noted the wooden wreckage lacked barnacles, worms, or slime, which he said showed it hadn’t been at sea for long. 

“I don’t think this thing came from offshore,” Blair said Wednesday. Given how the wind direction blew earlier in the week, he guessed the vessel came from the Cape, perhaps Hyannis. 

That guess turned out to be accurate. U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Zachary Hupp told The Times the vessel was called the Sea Tease and its homeport is Hyannis. Hupp said the owner is in Florida and was unaware something happened to it. The owner indicated to the Coast Guard that nobody had been using the boat, that it had been tied up, and that someone was looking to purchase it. 

Hyannis Marina manager and Assistant Harbormaster Derek Lawson said the vessel was a 42½-foot trawler built in 1977 with a 7½-foot draft. He identified the owner as Brian Olander, who he said has tinkered on the vessel in Hyannis for 15 years. “It was a wooden trawler that he basically turned into a houseboat,” Lawson said. The vessel “typically resides” on a mooring in North Bay, Lawson said, with the permit held by Niisa Olander, but it also ties up in Hyannis inner harbor at a private dock.   

“The last time I saw the boat it was on the dock,” he said, noting this was last week. He was unaware the Sea Tease was missing and wrecked.  Asked if it could have drifted out of the harbor afloat or sunken, Lawson said he found such scenarios “inconceivable” and “near impossible.”

Lawson said the Sea Tease was “docked at almost the very end bulkhead of the inner harbor” and would have faced numerous obstacles just to make it to the Hyannis jetties and then would have had to pass between those jetties in order to make it out into Nantucket Sound. 

Petty Officer Hupp said the Massachusetts Environmental Police were able to identify the vessel from registration data found on flotsam and that they were leading the investigation. 

“The whole thing is very unusual,” said Environmental Police Sgt. Scott Opie. Opie, who works on the Vineyard, said he was “treating it as a boat accident.” He noted there was no engine and no fuel tanks aboard and that the boat was stripped down to “basically a shell.” He confirmed the owner was looking to sell it. 

Blair said flotsam has also been found on Chappaquiddick.  

The Vineyard wasn’t the only place that debris washed up on, Opie pointed out.  Falmouth Harbormaster Gregg Fraser informed him flotsam was discovered at the entrance to Falmouth Harbor by the east jetty. 

Opie said the owner is unsure when he can get back up to the Cape, given the pandemic. 

Brian Olander and Niisa Olander could not be reached for comment. 

 

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