A BOLO (be on the look out for) alert three weeks ago advised of a boat overdue from Puerto Rico, headed for St. Augustine. Ellipsis, a Westsail 32, had survived Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and was headed home with its owner, a friend and a dog. Two days later, the boat was found, washed up on the north beach of Elbow Cay.
The two on board and the dog walked off the boat traumatized but uninjured. The boat had crashed its way over the Elbow Reef – the owner said it felt like they’d hit every rock out there — and was a total loss.
Massive cracks on both sides of its hull. The boat had run out of fuel. With no power, there was no operational navigational equipment. Anchoring was attempted, but both anchors were lost.
As much as could be was removed from the boat was salvaged, including the engine.
Her remains were to be hauled out to sea and sunk. She was moved closer to the low water line and turned seaward.
But she’d taken on so much water that she was too heavy to be towed.
Before pumps could be effective, the weather had deteriorated. Days of thirty plus winds brought wicked high waves. Last Sunday morning, even at low tide, waves were crashing over her hull.
A night of pounding waves – aided by a supermoon high tide – brought down the mast and tore the boat apart. This is what was left by morning.
Debris covered the beach.
Twenty-four hours later, the sea had reclaimed the boat.
Except for debris. Which volunteers helped collect for removal. Endless pieces of wood, fiberglass, foam, and stuff.
Including the cabin top, separated from her hull — a quarter of a mile up the beach.
Sad to see, but REALLY! It is a SAILboat so running out of fuel should be no excuse.
And didn’t the owner have PAPER charts? Reliance on only electronic charts is asking for trouble. Unfortunately, it seems to be all too common.
I’m sure Goldie would agree.
Agreed and all true. But there’s a lot more to this story than I could relate here. I wanted to tell the boat’s story — not the owner’s. But the back story is that the owner was basically forced to leave PR given the still impossible circumstances there following Maria’s devastation. Not the best place to repair his surviving boat and get her ready to make a passage. Difficult situation for him — no resources available and no good options.
Thank you for your story. It was devastating to me to see these photos, but also amazing to know what became of the boat I loved and sailed from 1997 to 2013. She had never been off Lake Michigan when we bought her, and we were very sad to have to sell her in Puerto Rico, after sailing her for 20,000 miles.
I’m wondering if anyone salvaged and has for sale the bronze star that was at the end of her bowsprit. Her first owner, who built her as a kit boat, put a star on the end of her first bowsprit. When we replaced the bowsprit in about 2009, we made sure to add a star. Ellipsis always followed a star. She was a strong and steady boat who always protected her crew.
Thanks for any information, Jackie