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 2
Saltaire38: Wreck of Le Papillon
* I am not sure whether the boat is uninsured, or if the policy did not cover this particular voyage.