Boat Grounded On Assateague; Captain Was Headed From New York To Florida

Cropper & Sons Towing and Recovering is pictured removing the 26-foot sail boat from the Assateague State Park beach on Monday morning. Photo by Travis Brown Cropper & Sons Towing and Recovering is pictured removing the 26-foot sail boat from the Assateague State Park beach on Monday morning. Photo by Travis Brown

ASSATEAGUE ISLAND — For the second time in a month, another vessel has been grounded on Assateague Island. This time it was a 26-foot sail boat that came ashore in the early morning hours Monday.
The ship, which had New York registration and was captained by Joseph “Buck” Yates, hit the beach around 4 a.m. Monday near the H-loop at the state park. Yates had been sailing from New York City to Northern Florida.
Cropper & Sons Towing and Recovery were called to the state park first thing Monday and were able to pull the boat off the beach by 10 a.m.
Despite the frigid temperatures, Yates was journeying south to Florida and seeking a place to sleep for the evening. The Dispatch caught up with Yates while he was staying at a local hotel on Tuesday.
“I was on my way to North Florida from New York City,” he said. “And I was just at the very tail end of about a 100-mile shot from Atlantic City.”
When the boat grounded, Yates had been looking for a shallow area to anchor for the night.
“It was just a kind of miscalculation. I was using maps instead of GPS. I was looking for the shallows near there,” he said. “I thought it was about a half-mile out and I guess I was going faster than I thought.”
Yates had hoped for more light to work with while he was sailing, but both the beach and the water where dark.
“The moon had already set so it was totally pitch black on the ocean,” he said.
The waves cracked the ship’s keel, and Yates confirmed that it will have to be salvaged.
Despite the experience, Yates kept a positive attitude and said that he will likely go right back into the water as soon as he can find a new vessel. Though his boat took some lumps, Yates said he got out unhurt.
“I thought I was going to have some frostbite but it turns out I was just really cold,” he said, referring to the 30-degree temperatures the night he came ashore.
This was Yates first attempt at such a long solo voyage but he said that it was “just part of the adventure.”
While ships have come ashore on Assateague in the past, it’s not usually with such frequency. It was less than a month ago on Oct. 30 that a so called “ghost ship” beached on the national seashore and made for some eerie picture on Halloween. However, the ship was soon revealed to be a missing house boat that had been cut loose during a towing operation. That vessel was also damaged by waves as it sat the waterline.

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