Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Ashore On Fire Island




Tuesday morning, Will from Tugster and I ventured out to Fire Island to get a close-up view of Le Papillion, beached upon the sands of Saltaire. The 48' LOD Colvin "Pinky" schooner had run aground last Thursday while sailing from Baltimore to Harrington, Maine. We had hoped to witness an attempt to pull her free, but the high winds, rough seas, and poor visibility had other plans.

We parked at Robert Moses Beach and made the one-mile hike, east of the lighthouse to where she was beached. Fire Island is an interesting place: the 30-odd mile, barrier beach includes a national seashore, and many stretches are car-free from May through September. A handful of park rangers and off-season contractors were our only interruptions along the sandy service road.

Reaching the hamlet of Kismet, we cut over to the surf and continued east. Even without a grounded schooner, the beach had an inhospitable feel about it. Aside from the cold, windy, and wet conditions, visibility was poor, and Le Papillon did not come into view until we were nearly upon her. High tide and heavy seas kept us far back from the water; her green steel hull shrouded in fog and sea foam, was getting pounded by the surf.

As a teenager, did you ever take your parents' car while they were out of town? Me neither, but I've seen plenty of John Hughes movies. If you replace sports car with schooner, that seems to be what happened in this case. There is a lot of rumor and misinformation floating around, but it appears that while the owner of the vessel was in South America, his 19 year-old son and two friends decided to sail the boat north to Maine.   They narrowly avoided disaster from a light grounding at Absecon Inlet, New Jersey, before landing hard on Fire Island days later. There was no one keeping watch!

Le Papillon has sailed over 80,000 nautical miles, including a circumnavigation, and three passages to Europe.
There is no insurance coverage for this incident*.
As each day passes, her chances of being saved  grow dimmer.

Wikipedia: Fire Island
Tugster: Ashore
Tugster: Ashore 2

* I am not sure whether the boat is uninsured, or if the policy did not cover this particular voyage.

12 comments:

PeregrineSea said...

Hey Mathew - cross posted on The PeregrineSea. What do you know?? Great pics!

matthew houskeeper said...

Hey Peregrine,
I'll post some text tomorrow with more info, but I just wanted to get the photos posted today

Ocean Girl said...

I posted these comments and questions on Peregrine Sea.

Oh no. What do you think could happen, I mean in terms of damage to the hull? WIll the boat be fine because of the sandy soft beach? I see that it is anchored to the beach. Is this the best thing to do to the boat in a situation like this?

I wonder what happened. Did the anchor gave way and the owner didn't realise it? Or did it lose power and thrown ashore on a stormy day? I hope everybody on board was alright. It is a beautiful boat.

The sea looked rough Mathew. Is it normal for this beach?

Will be on the lookout for more info here at Soundbounder.

tugster said...

matt-- nice to see you out there today. my post: http://tugster.wordpress.com/2011/04/05/ashore-2/

Tracie said...

This tragic. My exhusband's brother Tom built her and lived on her for over 25 years. I had the opportunity to sail her. From ST John USVI to Florida. This is heartbreaking.

Sailing Blogs said...

I hope she stays afloat and in one piece. Sad to hear this story. Hope nobody was injured.

PeregrineSea said...

The schooner is for sale on crigslist. $15,000 but you have to remove from the beach! Perhaps not too good of a deal ......

matthew houskeeper said...

Tracie,
Thanks for sharing that info. Must be especially difficult to see since you have such a connection to her.

Peregrine,
The CL ad is not the owner. Either it is bogus, or it was someone with no resources trying to arrange a salvage.

Ocean Girl,
No, this was a particularly stormy day when we visited.
As of today, she is still there. doesn't look good!

jeannette said...

Even as a layman I can see what a beautiful boat this is -a story of bad decisions!

matthew houskeeper said...

Hi Jeannette,
Agree - she is a beautiful boat, and this was some terrible decision making.

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boat hull psychosnail said...

Superb! I heard that one story is that some 20 year olds took daddy’s boat heading from Mayland to Maine. They had the autopilot on and ran aground off Kismet, Fire Island. The dad came up to check out the boat and basically washed his hands of it. It is said that the boat will most likely just be cut up and dragged off. thanks a lot!~ James Cameron