By Kathryn G. Menu
When North Haven resident Robert Arcs checked on his 27 foot, Albin sloop sailboat Capt. America around 2 p.m. on October 29, the affect of Hurricane Sandy on the East End was reaching its peak, with little rain, but strong wind gusts and coastal flooding hammering the region.
Capt. America, moored just inside the breakwater in Sag Harbor Bay, was “being tossed around like a cork,” said Arcs, but was holding her own. However, watching his ship get tossed around left Arcs unsure about her ability to weather the storm.
But she did, and with a story so fantastical even Arcs is blown away.
Capt. America not only came through the storm, she even sailed her way home to North Haven, unmanned. After breaking loose from the mooring near the breakwater, the boat sailed across Sag Harbor Bay, over a flooded barrier beach and into Great Pond Creek before crashing into Arcs own dock on South Harbor Drive in North Haven.
“It actually drifted to the safest spot near Sag Harbor — that sheltered creek — you couldn’t have found a safer place for a boat,” said Arcs in an interview on Wednesday.
Arcs said he had joked to his tenant prior to the boat’s unmanned journey that he was considering sailing her to his dock after seeing the barrier beach had been overcome in the storm surge. He had no way of knowing Capt. America would soon make the journey on her own. A few hours later, while watching the Capt. America ply her way towards Arcs’ dock, his tenant thought maybe Arc wasn’t joking after all.
Capt. America was barely damaged during her travels, expect for a mark on the keel of the vessel, which occurred when it travelled over the breakwater. When Arcs explored the vessel days after the storm the interior of the boat was dry, and the engine started up immediately.
The boat ended up in wetlands, about five to six feet away from neighboring residences, after breaking Arcs’ dock apart. Arc said he expects to have it removed today or tomorrow — the delay due to the nor’easter that moved across the region last Wednesday.
Arcs said the boat should have been removed from the mooring, in retrospect.
“This was just a tremendous storm,” said Arcs. “And this is one hell of a ship. I told my wife in the next storm, she might be the safest place to be.”
Arcs said ultimately he feels fortunate, as do many in this area, especially after seeing the homes and lives lost due to Hurricane Sandy in places like Fire Island, the Rockaways, Breezy Point, Long Beach and coastal communities in New Jersey.
“I think especially out here, it is hard to feel immune from something really terrible happening and the reality is even with the damage we saw here, we have been very, very fortunate,” said Arcs.
“My boat decided to go home, it went to the safest place it could get to,” said Arcs. “Historically, this was a village that had more boats in it than New York Harbor. “
“I think this is truly a safe haven.”