Thursday, April 14, 2011
The Wreck of the LePapillon on March 31, 2011 Recalls Fire Island's centuries old reputation as a graveyard for navigation.
GREAT PICTURES COURTESY LIV HEMPEL
March 31, 2011 and April 1, 2011
(Ed. Note: This post originally ran on April 1, 2011.)
This week we saw just one more of the of hundreds and hundreds of vessels that have met their fate on Fire Island's shoals. Forget about GPS and radar and sonar and modern charts. If you fall asleep at the wheel, as rumor has it, you are still gonna meet your fate. Fortunately nobody was hurt, but the LePapillon, aground off West Walk since Thursday, looks to be doomed. The Schooner was hard aground, and they lacked the bread to call in SeaTow. By Friday afternoon, it looked as if boat may break up in the surf. Maybe the Coast Guard will destroy her to prevent her from being a hazard to navigation. You can hire a towing service, but these folks apparently could not afford it. In the old days, for a hundred years or so, the Fire Island Lifesaving Service would have lent a hand:
It appears there were three young people on board the LePapillon who may have fallen asleep and let the boat drift ashore. (No, Cosmo was not on board) . Supposedly they were sailing from Maryland taking it to Maine. In any event, Fire Island got in the way. Nobody was hurt. The boat was still there as of Friday, and had become more embedded in the sand making it that much harder to get it back out to sea.
Frank Markus reports: The boat was coming from Maryland (not Florida.) She has a steel hull which won't burn and is very heavy. I have no idea how they will get her off the beach. They may have to cut her up. Whatever they decide, it will be expensive and apparently money is a problem for the owner.The Coast Guard is taking action to get fuel out of the boat to avoid pollution. There were two Coast Guardsmen the Coram station at the wreck today (Friday, April 1) and they met with the owner when he arrived around noon.Of course, there are lots of stories and rumors. I have been told that the boat was the owner's retirement plan and that it was uninsured. I was also told that was taken by his son without permission. I have no way to confirm whether any of this is true.There were three young men on board when she came ashore yesterday at around noon. I was told that they may have gone to a hospital but I have no idea which one or for what kind of treatment.
Beaver sez: Perhaps these mariners were fooled by descendants of those wreck pirates of the 1700's who used to light fires on the beach to lure ships ashore.
There have been, of course countless ships lost on these shores over the years. Who can forget the the image of the Hougomount on Saltaire's shores in the winter of 1913-1914.
Hougomount at Saltaire, 1913-1914 Courtesy Capt. Frank Mina
One of Saltaire's oldest families, the Lynch Family was introduced to Saltaire by a shipwreck in 1919 or so. Mrs. Lynch, a public health worker or nurse, came to aid in the rescue efforts. The rescuers use the Saltaire cottages as relief stations. Nurse Lynch fell in love with the Saltaire then and there, and she bought land (which is now underwater not far from the LePapillon now lays dying) and a cottage and her family lived in Saltaire for the next 50 years or so. True story.
And don't forget, of course, Margaret Fuller. Transcendentalist, feminist, writer, met her fate, along with her child and her husband when their ship ran aground on Fire Island in July, 1850. See the post immediately below this post for contemporary accounts of what happend when Margaret Fuller's ship wrecked. So don’t feel bad, LePapillon. You are not the first. Nor will you be the last.
(Thanx go to Liv Hempel, Liz Kelly, Beaver, undnamed sources and named sources.)