46-foot sailboat goes aground
On Tuesday, November 8, 2022 around 11:15 a.m., Harbormaster Kate McConville received a call that there was a sailboat very close to shore on the west side of the island. When she got to the scene, McConville told The Block Island Times, the vessel was among the rocks just south of the entrance to Dorry’s Cove. There was “one individual on board, alone, no injuries. We spoke via VHF radio and I notified the United States Coast Guard,” she said.
The boat’s owner, Mr. Peter Prauss, 78, resides in Hamburg, Germany in the winter months and sails along the coast of the tri-state area during “the season.” He was on his way to leave the boat in Warwick just before returning home for the winter. McConville told The Times that Prauss has owned the 46-foot Galaxie for 12 years.
Prauss’s engine quit working and he went below to try to repair the issue. “Unfortunately, when he came back up, the keel was hitting bottom. It was too far in and we lost the tide to safely pull it off,” said McConville. “The Narragansett Fire Rescue swim crew came over on a USCG vessel to assist getting the owner safely off the vessel. He had to jump off with a life jacket and they swam him in. I took him to the Rescue Station where he could dry off and warm up.” (A short video of the rescue can be seen on the New Shoreham Harbors Department Facebook page.)
While waiting to get off the island on Wednesday, Prauss spent some time at the Block Island Chamber of Commerce, and according to Chamber Director Chris Crawford, said the boat engine overheated when the cooling chamber dislodged from its weld just off shore and the currents and wind pushed the boat into the rocks before he could repair and reinstall it.
“People are asking me why no one helped him,” said McConville. “He was unable to verify his insurance, and tow companies require that before they assume possession of a vessel in such distress. Without proper insurance, the price for service is extremely expensive. I was not going to put the town marine patrol at risk when there was no person in distress.”
“The Chamber of Commerce found him lodging in South Kingston Wednesday night so he could get a new charger for his phone and coordinate repairs to the boat,” said Crawford.
“He has worked out its removal with a salvage company from the mainland,” said McConville. “It should be removed, hopefully Friday [November 18].” High winds and surf from the remnants of Hurricane Nichole that caused the ferry to be canceled on Saturday, delayed the salvage operation, which will involve bringing in a barge outfitted with a crane.
The boat, with an aluminum hull, appeared to suffer little additional damage from the stormy weather, but did look as if it had a hole in it, McConville said on Monday upon revisiting Dorry’s Cove to take additional pictures for the salvage
“I am just glad there were no injuries,” she said.