Ragged and tattered but largely intact, the abandoned sailboat belonging to a District mariner who was rescued by the Coast Guard in a fierce storm off the Massachusetts coast last month has washed ashore in Nova Scotia, its skipper, Vic Gillings, said last week.
Gillings, 74, a native of Yorkshire, Great Britain, said he got a phone call from Canadian authorities Thursday night informing him that a fisherman had discovered the Sara Gamp stuck on some rocks near Yarmouth, on Nova Scotia's southwestern coast.
"The starboard side's been bashed around quite a bit, but there's no holes in her," Gillings said.
The 33-foot ketch had apparently drifted more then 200 miles, said Gillings, who resides at the Gangplank on the Potomac Marina on Water Street SW.
Gillings, a bricklayer, said he is not sure he can afford to retrieve and repair the boat. "I'm totally broke," he said. "I've been agonizing. . . . What do I do? The truth is there's not much I can do." He said the aluminum-hulled vessel was uninsured.
Gillings had set sail alone Oct. 21 from Liverpool, Nova Scotia. He was headed for Gloucester, Mass., and eventually for the boat's home port of Kinsale, Va., where he planned to show the Sara Gamp to prospective buyers.
But on Oct. 24, running behind schedule, he found himself in the path of a nor'easter boiling up the New England coast.
Worried friends and family members alerted the Coast Guard, and a helicopter plucked Gillings, cold and exhausted, from the Sara Gamp on Oct. 26 northeast of Provincetown, Mass.
Gillings said he violated a rule he learned during 45 years of sailing: "Never leave your boat."
In other words, he said, "if somebody had been on the Sara Gamp and not left it, they would have still been safe when she finally run ashore."
But he acknowledged that he had been worn down by the storm's towering waves and 70 mph winds.
"I feel very ashamed that I abandoned her in the first place," he said. "But the Coast Guard knew better than me. They no doubt saw the exhaustion in me that I didn't see."
-- Michael E. Ruane