Recovering from Riley

On March 2nd, 2018, we experienced every boat owner’s worst nightmare - an unexpectedly violent storm caused our beloved sailboat “Witch of Endor” to break free of her mooring and wreck on the concrete pilings of a nearby dock. We had visited the boat the day before and checked all of our mooring lines and chafing gear, but the strong storm surge was too much even for our oversized lines. Our pennant snapped during a particularly strong moment of riding up on a wave cresting the breakwater. 

We found out that she was loose and drifting just before sunset, and watched helplessly as the storm winds drove her onto the dock, where she was continuously pounded by the surf through the remaining two days of winter storm Riley and the gale that followed. We waited a week for weather suitable to move her off of the dock. Once she was safe we were heartbroken to discover that the damage was too extensive for affordable repairs.

Pascal and I have been living aboard the Witch of Endor in Vineyard Haven Harbor for the past nine summers. Like so many Vineyarders, we afford paying our mortgage on our house by renting it out in the summer and living elsewhere. We treasure our time living in the harbor. There is a wonderful community and it is a great joy to be rocked to sleep at night and wake up on the water. We were so excited to share this experience with our five week old son Montgomery. We had so many happy visions of the trips we would take as a family.

We have afforded the Witch of Endor for the past eight summers by using her as a business, sharing our love of sailing with thousands of people over the years. Many families return each year to sail with us, as one of their Vineyard traditions. We also have repeat customers with many local businesses who host their annual staff parties aboard. We have had four couples get married on the Witch over the years in small, intimate ceremonies full of love. We have been honored with the scattering of loved ones’ ashes at sea several times, and have had all ages, from babies to great-grandparents, enjoy sailing with us. We have donated many charters over the years to causes such as The Girl Scouts, The Possible Dreams Auction on MV, and The Children’s Trust in Boston.

Looking forward, we plan to get another boat. However, it takes time to find one that is the right size for livability and our charter sailing business, and within our budget. Due to misinformation from an insurance agent after the combination fire & flood that we experienced last year we find ourselves without insurance currently. That means all of the costs from preparing the Witch for salvage and finding another boat to live on will be out-of-pocket expenses. 

Our goal is to raise $50,000 which will allow us to purchase another boat without incurring crippling debt.  We are determined to be back on the water again and any amount that is raised will help. We wish to continue to share what we love with our family, friends, and the many visitors who enjoy chartering with us.

Thank you for taking the time to listen to our story. This heavy time is made lighter by all of the compassion and assistance we are being offered. We are so grateful for all of the people who care about us and who know how much our boat and our life aboard means to us.


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Jeanie Hay Sternbach 
Tisbury, MA
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