Raider hops landing craft to Rhode Island

Bristol Channel cutter emerges from long storage in V.H.

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Updated 10/31

Raider, a 1910 Bristol Channel pilot cutter, a type of British sailboat, long in storage at Capt. Bob Douglas’ cement warehouse in Vineyard Haven, was laboriously rolled through Five Corners Friday night, and onto a landing craft Saturday afternoon.

Nested in the landing craft, Raider subsequently headed to Wickford Shipyard in North Kingston, R.I., where new owners Jennifer LeComte and Capt. Dominic Zachorne plan to get the vessel shipshape for a Christmas sail back to Vineyard Haven. An owner of many storied wooden vessels, Capt. Douglas kept Raider preserved for decades in storage. Capt. Zachorne previously worked for Capt. Douglas, LeComte told The Times. “He was a deckhand at 14,” she wrote, “worked his way up to skipper of Alabama. He was a mate on Shenandoah for many years.”

Preparations for the move went on throughout the day on Friday, with part of the vessel poking out over the sidewalk along Water Street and drumming up curiosity as passersby attempted to get a glimpse of what was going on. The vessel began its shimmy from the warehouse Friday night at about 11 pm. Five Corners was partially closed to traffic as shipwrights and volunteers, under Capt.Douglas’ observation and Capt. Zachorne’s command, slowly angled the old pilot vessel out of its resting place and onto the street with short tugs from a forklift. Crew from nearby Gannon & Benjamin were among the volunteers at work with sledgehammers and pry bars, coaxing steel rollers to incrementally move Raider forward.

At one point Water Street was completely closed after the vessel fully emerged from the warehouse, stern-first, turned, and then led with its bow toward Beach Street Extension. Early Saturday morning, Raider was parked in a cradle near the beach at the end of Beach Street Extension. Later in the day, the landing craft Paul Brown, a repurposed military vessel, half-beached in the sand near the Black Dog dock. Crew and volunteers built a wooden block and plank path for Raider to cross the sand, and the vessel was nudged and coaxed into the landing craft to a round of applause. 

Capt. Ethan Rossi, master of the Paul Brown, said Raider’s tonnage would be easily handled by the landing craft. Rossi estimated Raider to be 20 tons, and the Paul Brown has a 100-ton capacity. 

“Dominic says what attracts him to Raider [is] the history of the vessel, [its] connection with his friend Bob, and the preservation of maritime history,” LeComte emailed. “This is a very unique vessel. Very few of them left in the world. Of the hundreds of original Bristol Channel pilot cutters, there around eight left in the water. I grew up always in and on the water, sharing time with my family. I developed an appreciation for classic wooden boats through Dominic. Raider is a solid workhorse. She’ll easily accommodate family, and carry us through whatever Mother Nature throws at us.” 

Updated with new details from the move.

11 COMMENTS

  1. Great video guys, thanks. Boat moving, old style. Put these guys in loin cloths, nix the tractor, throw in Charlton Heston and a bunch of Egyptian slaves, and you’ve got yourself a Cecil B DeMille/5 Corners epic. I got a kick out of the owner directing operations with a cup of coffee in his hand. Best of luck to him. She’s a beauty.

  2. Someone please tell me what the big deal is over this boat. And has been all over social media and no one seems to know the history. Other than it has been held hostage in a barn for a long time and is now free.

    • You must be new here.
      Wooden boats are always a big deal on the Island.
      It is what makes the Island so charming.

    • There should have been a photo of the three owners of Raider together, as I was there to help with the move. From right to left, Dominic Zachorne, Robert Douglas, Carlton Sprague.
      I sailed Raider many thousands of miles down the Barbary Coast – Mediterian, up to England & Ireland. I sold the boat to Bob. Bob improved the interior and deck configuration while she was stored at five corners. I wish Dominic and his wonderful partner Jennifer all the best – they have that beautiful energy that makes everything happen!
      George Brennan, as far as I know never spoke to me about history – what ever.

      • Carlton, I did not do the story. I’m sure Rich Saltzberg would still love to speak with you. Please give him a call at our office 508-693-6100.

      • My brother works with Dominic and this beauty couldn’t have gone to a better home. Thanks for the history about her provenance.

  3. Raider was afloat in Vineyard Haven harbor in 1979 when I and a friend worked for Bob for the summer. We scraped and painted her while she was afloat. She was moved into the shed that winter and has been there every since. I’ll be interested to hear what is planned for her.

  4. If it’s no longer your boat, why would anyone need to talk to you? But as George mentioned, you can speak to Rich. Maybe he’ll get you the ego boost you’re looking for.

    • Jim, Nothing like a bucket of cold water in the face!
      I deserved it after reading what I wrote the night before – not my style at all to be mushy – just an emotional outburst.
      Just reacted to Bob and George’s comments above, thats all. . . .
      First time in my life to post a comment in MV Times and I meet you! What a hoot
      no harm done

  5. Wonderful article, well done, Rich, and well illustrated. The Vineyard at its best. I look forward to reading more about Raider in the future. A blessed change from politics.

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