Thursday, October 23, 2008

Ghost Ship Washes Up On Hampton Beach

A 25-foot, unnamed sailboat with the words “keep out” and a pirate’s skull painted on the side, washed up on North Beach in rough surf. The racing boat, its mast snapped off at the base and its rudder broken, sat in the sand opposite 18th Street as of Wednesday afternoon. No one was onboard and emergency officials said no distress call went out. State Parks Supervisor Brain Warburton said the boat was likely anchored off shore and Monday’s strong surf broke it free. Yet, according to an onlooker who’s a sailor, it appeared the sails were up on the racing boat and the hatch was open. Also, there was no name on the ghost ship identifying it. “There’s no name or location on the boat,” said Sonja Fridell of Hampton, a local sailor. “That boat is not moored in the immediate vicinity.” Spray painted on the side are the words “keep off” with a pirate’s skull next to it, said Fridell, a former intern for Seacoast Media Group. “The rigging is still on,” said Fridell. “It appeared the sails were up on the mast ... The rigging and mast are hanging in the water.”Usually the sails are taken off of racing boats, she said. Also, the hatch was open on the boat Fridell identified as an older model, J24. “The owner was contacted and he was going to go there today and determine how to remove the vessel,” said Coast Guard Command Center Chief Lisa Tinker, in South Portland, Maine. Tinker did not have the man’s name nor where he lived. Tinker said she did not know how the owner was identified. A Coast Guard petty officer in Portsmouth, who did not wish to give his name, said officials were unable get identification numbers off of the boat. Warburton said he’s seen the owner on site but did not have his name. The responsibility for removal of the boat is the owner’s, said Warburton. Should the boat remain, he would have to look at getting it off the state beach, he said. “It’s not as much as an issue as in the summer,” he said. The Hampton Fire Department said its involvement was limited because the incident did not involve emergency rescue. The Coast Guard said its involvement was limited to the effect the boat polluted the water or interfered with navigation, neither being the case.

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