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Drifting yacht hits three boats in St George’s

An out-of-service 92-foot motor yacht came loose from its mooring in St George's Harbour at the weekend and hit at least three boats.

The Esperanza drifted a quarter of a mile into a bay off St David's before it was spotted and anchored.

The alarm was raised after a resident spotted the deserted and adrift Esperanza from the public dock near the Chapel of Ease Church in St David's at about 6.30am on Sunday and contacted the island's harbourmaster.

The boat was later boarded by owner, Jepeth Newton, and anchored in the bay on a temporary basis while he arranged yesterday for it to be towed back to its original mooring.

But the man who reported the boat, who asked not be named, said he was worried that if the wind picked up and shifted to the northeast as is forecast, the boat could break loose again and damage other boats in the bay — including his own.

David Simmons, the harbourmaster, told The Royal Gazette: “I've been in contact with the owner and I believe that the ground chain disconnected from the mooring.

“The boat drifted about a quarter of a mile from near Powder Hall in St George's Harbour off Smith's Island and drifted southeast about a quarter of a mile to the Chapel of Ease dock in St David's east of Emily's Bay.

“From my understanding some of the boats were damaged.”

Mr Simmons said that Marine and Ports would help Mr Newton's salvage effort if needed.

He added: “It is up to the owners to look after their boats but when things like this happen we will help out if we are needed and if we can so it doesn't cause a catastrophe.

“We are giving him the opportunity to take care if it himself.

“If the wind does start to pick up speed then we may have to try to step in whether it's with a pilot boat or one of our work boats.”

The Esperanza, launched 40 years ago, sank in Marginal Wharf, St George's, after Hurricane Nicole in 2016 and sat on the sea floor for five months before it was raised.

Mr Newton said he had heard from two boat owners with damage to their boats and had noticed damage to a third vessel.

He had inspected the Esperanza's original mooring and there was no evidence of a broken anchor chain but it had come free from its shackle.

Mr Newton said the boat, which he is restoring, had $6,000 worth of tools stolen from it last year.

He thought someone could have disconnected the chain from its mooring on purpose.

Mr Newton said: “There was no evidence of breakage but I still have to complete my investigation. I don't know if it was intervention by someone.

“It seems like someone is taking stuff to prevent me working on the boat. Everything has been prepped for me to start the work. I can't see how the shackle became disconnected from the bottom chain.”

Mr Newton added: “This is my life's dedication. I am from humble beginnings — I worked my way up to this and it is my mission to get to the next stage of life. It is going to be a charter boat. I'm not the type of person to give up.”

The Esperanza came loose from its mooring in St George's Harbour and drifted a quarter of a mile (Photograph supplied)

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Published March 26, 2019 at 9:00 am (Updated March 26, 2019 at 8:47 am)

Drifting yacht hits three boats in St George’s

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