Heart’s Desire hits the beach!

It has been a long while since we last posted and there is a lot to catch up on but a week ago I thought this blog might be no longer as we contemplated the loss of our boat and second home.

A powerful winter storm hit the Vineyard and much of the Massachusetts coast on Friday March 2nd, 2018. While some predictions were for near hurricane force winds, 74 mph (118 km/hr) the storm exceeded expectation with large storm surges and gusts clocked to 84 mph at Nobska Lighthouse and 75 mph at the Martha’s Vineyard Shipyard. The storm was named, Riley, and caused significant flooding, power outages and property damage. Four boats in Vineyard Haven Harbor broke moorings that night.

While both our floating and stationary homes were being beaten up however we were enjoying rum punch on the beaches of Martinique, oblivious to it all save an email from my work that storm prep was underway earlier in the day. We didn’t think much of it; Heart’s Desire was supposedly safe on a town mooring behind the breakwater in Vineyard Haven Harbor and there was nothing we could do while on vacation. We therefore left for the day hiking and to enjoy the sun on this beautiful tropical island.

Upon our return to our wonderful apartment rental with WIFI in the evening, the messages began coming in. The first from Harry said simply “Dude…” with the following photo by Lynne Fraker:


March 2nd, 2018 – Heart’s Desire in “Shipwreck Cove” of Vineyard Haven Harbor. Photo by Lynne Fraker

There was no mistaking it: Heart’s Desire was up on a beach. Then began the rush of emotions and slight panic as we realized what had happened, what was yet to come, and that we were completely helpless to the situation. There is not much you can do in the middle of a storm but watch until she relents and hope for the best. To make matters worse was having to get news second hand and rely on dark photographs for updates. Lukily HD had landed on a small patch of beach, somehow missing the many docks, other boats and rocky areas in the harbor. Also, we had many competent and reliable sources of information for updates and assessments. While this is helpful and a slight comfort our night was filled with dreams of splintered pieces of our lovely girl spread around the harbor by morning. My only comfort was that being so far away meant Matt would not be trying anything dangerous to help her that night.

By morning the storm had settled slightly and we got word that an attempt would be made to drag Heart’s Desire off the beach. She had made it even further up the beach and our rig was about to take out power lines along Beach Road. For safety these were shut down temporarily.

Hear'ts Desire on the beach

photo by Myles Thurlow

Ralph Packer’s 65’ tug Sirius captained Paul Bangs got to work on Saturday morning. He maneuvered the tug with great precision towards the beach in the still lumpy harbor. On land our dream team of friends Myles Thurlow, Lyle Zell, Ted Oakie, Duncan MacFarlne and Andy Chapman tied lines and got her ready for the big pull. With meticulous care Heart’s Desire was dragged over so the side that had been rubbing the shore all night was exposed. While the paint had been sanded away, she was in amazingly good condition and so deemed seaworthy and pulled to deeper water. She was then put on a new mooring showing no signs of taking on water.


Getting Heart’s Desire ready to be pulled off the beach. Lyle, Duncan and Andy. Photo by Lynne Fraker.

Sirius then moved on to tow the sloop McNab off the beach near Owen Park in Vineyard Haven Harbor. She had managed to land in a great sandy and relatively protected area. While working on McNab however Heart’s Desire decided to take another adventure across the harbor, this time dragging her new mooring to within 15’ of Coastwise Dock in front of the Black Dog. Upon completing the McNab tow Capt. Bangs immediately set out to rescue Heart’s Desire for a second time that day. Heart’s Desire was then banished from moorings and tied to a large stationary steel barge on pilings that had been left in the harbor. While being tied to the barge caused some damage of its own, at least we knew she wasn’t going anywhere this time. Sunday with calm weather finally arriving she got to remove her dunce cap and go back to a mooring.

We could not have asked for better handling of the situation or a better outcome. Friends, acquaintances and the local harbor community stepped in and up without question or hesitation. Heart’s Desire could not have been in better hands and we are both indebted and thankful to everyone who provided information, photos, assistance, advice and made decisions in our absence. While we don’t wish this type of excitement on anyone, we look forward to paying it forward if ever needed. Thanks again to Myles, Ted, Lyle, Andy, Duncan, Harry, Tisbury Towing and the Martha’s Vineyard Shipyard.


Almost ready to pull her off the beach, Saturday March 3rd, 2018.


Tisbury Towing Co. tug Sirius taking Heart’s Desire back to a mooring in rough seas. Saturday March 3, 2018, Vineyard Haven Harbor.


    1. Hi there, thanks for your interest! She is back in action and suffered surprisingly little damage. The anchor hause pipe which was damaged has been replaced and the hull had a little sanding but seems fine. We are extremely relieved and are now living on Heart’s Desire most of the summer. We’ll try and post more soon.

  1. Harold Van Doren and I met you both on Isle au Haut atop Duck Harbor Mt.
    Both of you joyful and happy from your trip north.
    Glad you and HD are well after Riley.
    Love to you both and it looks like you and HD have many adventures ahead.

    1. Hi Tom we remember that trip fondly. I hope to maybe get to Maine next August but we shall see what this year has in store. We have a 16 month old and are getting used to having her on the boat. It has been an adjustment and limited our travels but hopefully again soon!

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