Death of the “Heron”
I bought my Grampian 28 from a singular Tasmanian named Dave in
February, 2003. I had gone to
Dave had sailed everywhere in everything, and had severely modified "Lupi" to fit his unique understanding of sailboats. The inboard was replaced by a 15hp Honda outboard in a custom-made, height-adjustable mount on the transom. The lifelines were pretty much done away with ("Look how they just catch you below the knee and overboard you go."). Water storage was a series of 6 gallon jerry cans ("One goes bad, you still have the others, and you can swim them from shore.") The head was original -- and illegal. Most of what he did was illegal or extralegal, I was to find out.
And she was old. No new paint. Mostly original sails and rigging. Serious anchors .. . an autopilot, and was good to go anywhere.
She was my first boat. A learning experience.
Anchored in the gypsy zone of the South Fork of the St. Lucie River, she was my
rent free home on and off for a year while I learned and prepared for
adventures. Living and teaching in
One ongoing headache was registration. The Tasmanian had bought
her from a woman in
I finally registered her in
The City of
At the end of the summer I had to go back to
Charlie didn't get near Stuart, nor did Danielle, but Frances
did. She came ashore right at Sewall's Point in
Stuart on September 5th. More than half of the boats in Southpointe
were blown off; either the moorings gave way (so much for Force 5) or, as with
"Night Heron," as I now called her (but never got the name painted
on), just sheared the lines right off. All three were broken clean through
right near the bow; the lashings on the deck were still firmly in place. The
south fork of the St. Lucie River is about a mile wide, and most boats were
blown from the
The storm went through on Sunday morning. I got to Stuart on Thursday, and the Honda was already gone to looters (it had been there on Tuesday). The hull was cracked laterally just behind the keel, probably from being pounded up and down on the rocks on the keel. She has had quite a but of water in her and everything inside below waist height was water-soaked. The mast was intact, though one shroud had broken. The bow pulpit was partially damaged.
At that point I thought she might be recoverable, but I stripped
off and out everything of value -- electronics and personal possessions -- and
arranged for a salvage company to haul her off and take her back to Indiantown
Marina. I had liability insurance, but no insurance on the value. Trying to
insure a 28-year old boat with questionable registration was too much. Then I went back to
The salvage guys dawdled (there was a hell of a lot to do - boats all over the place) and Jeanne came shore on Sunday morning, September 26, at exactly the same place, exactly three weeks after Frances, taking care of much of what Frances had missed. I did not get down to see the Grampian after that, but I guess Jeanne did her in. Took off the mast and finished holing the port side as she pounded on the rocks again. Looters seem to have had a free hand also. The hatches were broken open and anything else of any value (whisker pole, water containers, old fenders, winches) was removed. Finally, after a couple of months on the beach, the salvage company floated her off somehow, patched the holes with boards, glue, and expanding sealant, and towed her the twenty-some miles to Indiantown Marina, bailing all the way, I guess.
When I saw Night Heron in November. it was clear she was terminal. All the rigging was gone, the hull was holed in several places, some bulkheads were broken loose, she stank, and there was nothing left but the bare hull -- and a storage unit full of gear that the Tasmanian had collected over the years and that I had spent weeks ferrying off.
So I am pronouncing her dead. Progressive Insurance was wonderful in covering the recovery from the beach -- expensive, and no questions asked. I'll eat the loss of the value. I still have that storage shed full of stuff that I'll try to sell in tailgate sales at Indiantown, and some things I may keep toward the possibility of another boat sometime in the future, one that will live on a trailer and never be far away from where I am.
“Hight Heron” was hull #54, made in
Maybe it was all those name changes.
And before the story is completely over, I may have to write up
the many stories collected from and about the Tasmanian, who was last heard of