KEYPORT — High winds and rough seas broke three ships — two of which ran aground — from their moorings near the Keyport Yacht Club last weekend, but they were rescued by borough resident Capt. Mike Vinik and his tugboat, the Agnes.
The Agnes, named after his mother, is his newest ship. The versatile ship possesses the power to tow boats in the harbor, but also has a shallow draw that allows Vinik to maneuver the vessel in the in Keyport Harbor.
This was the first storm in which he was able to offer assistance to fellow sailors. His other vessels have either been powerful enough to tow a ship but needed deep water, or they could squeeze into the harbor but could not pull ship from shore.
Vinik is a lifelong resident of the borough. He runs his company, Vinik Marine, out of South Amboy, but it is only since he bought the Agnes that he could be called for help from borough sailors.
“I’ve watched boats break away before,” he said. “They are almost always destroyed.”
One of the ships, the Harmony, ran aground at Beach Park some time overnight Oct. 2. The 30-foot Baba listed to starboard and was pinned precariously on the bulkhead at Beach Park.
At 11 a.m. last Saturday, Gary Korkala, of Nutley and a member of the Keyport Yacht Club since 1976, was hauling gear from his cabin with the help of passers-by. The cabin was filled with about 18 inches of water that seemed to be pouring in from over the stern.
“This is rare,” Korkala said. “They don’t normally breakaway.”
The Harmony withstood two high tides as waves and strong northeast winds battered the ship against the sea wall.
The the tarnished brass fittings on the ships chocks had been polished to a high shine presumably from the constant rubbing of the lines because the strong the waves and winds caused the ship to bob on the surface.
Vinik fears the Harmony and a second ship that careened into a seawall behind homes on First Street will be a total loss for their captains.
But Vinik was able to rescue a third ship that broke away from it’s moorings before it slammed into the Pederson Marina’s bulkheads. He towed a fourth to safety that appeared like it was going to break free, too.
“Boats want to float away, or sink,” Vinik said. “Everything you do is to stop both from happening.”
Editor’s Note: The bulk of photography for this story was provided by Quin Bond, an independent photographer based in the Bayshore. See more of Bond’s work at By Quin.