Abandoned Sailboat Washes Ashore at Norton Point
Mark Alan Lovewell
Monday, July 8, 2013 - 4:22pm
Salvage plans are under way for an abandoned 36-and-a-half-foot sailboat that washed up at Norton Point beach on Friday night.
No one was aboard the Running Free, which was abandoned in the Bermuda Triangle on Mother’s Day.
An earlier report by the Gazette that the sailboat had been the subject of a Coast Guard rescue near Charleston, S.C. was inaccurate.
The sailboat’s owner, Bill Heldenbrand of St. Joseph, Mo., told the Gazette Monday he was sailing alone from Green Cove Springs, Fla. in early May with the ultimate goal of crossing the Atlantic Ocean. His trip didn’t go as planned. Instead, after seven days at sea, the novice sailor encountered high winds and huge seas three-quarters of the way to Bermuda.
Mr. Heldenbrand was rescued by a passing oil tanker and forced to abandon the sailboat. The tanker took him to Quebec City. The Running Free drifted to places unknown — until Friday, when Mr. Heldenbrand received a phone call from Nancy and Bruce Hulme, who spotted the sailboat coming ashore.
“We were sitting on the beach when it approached the shore and we contacted the Coast Guard when it was clear no one was aboard,” Mr. and Mrs. Hulme said in an email to the Gazette. The couple looked up the owner of the boat online and reached out to him via Facebook.
Mr. Heldenbrand said that he is driving from Georgia to Cape Cod to retrieve the sailboat, which he has arranged to have towed to Falmouth.
That move may be completed as early as Monday evening, he said, though a previous attempt on Sunday to free the sailboat from its sandy berth proved unsuccessful.
“It was a surprise that it beached itself on Martha’s Vineyard,” Mr. Heldenbrand said. “I am hoping to get it off the beach and get some repairs.”
A previous version of this story mistakenly identified the sailboat as one that was abandoned near South Carolina last month. -
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