On the Waterfront

Westward is Portland-bound

In the harbor, it’s two strikes and you’re out
Tue, 01/13/2015 - 2:00pm

    The F/V Westward, which has been moored in Boothbay Harbor since 2012, appears to be headed to Portland after its latest mishap has left it without a mooring.

    Early Friday, Jan. 9, the Westward broke loose in high winds from the Boothbay Harbor Shipyard mooring where it has been secured for most of the last two years. It then drifted shoreward and ran aground near the shipyard.

    Fuller Marine Services towed the vessel back out into the harbor, where it was ultimately attached to the Coast Guard mooring. This was the second “walkabout” for the Westward, which broke free from the same mooring in October 2013 and was retrieved before grounding by lobsterman Bill Hallinan.

    The Westward has been a subject of concern for both the local Harbormaster Nick Upham and for other harbor watchers.

    Owner James Sheehy claimed in a Boothbay Register interview last June that he expected to complete needed repairs at the local shipyard and return the vessel to fishing by the end of summer.

    Boothbay Harbor Shipyard Manager Eric Graves indicated then that he hoped to complete work on the vessel, as well. But summer turned to fall and then winter and still the Westward remained.

    On Friday, when the Westward was once again adrift, it had no mooring to return to as it had in 2013. Harbormaster Upham said the local shipyard was no longer willing to allow Sheehy to use its mooring so the vessel was temporarily secured on the Coast Guard’s mooring. 

    Graves said on Tuesday the Shipyard was still in contact with Sheehy and they were sorry that Sheehy was unable to complete repairs on the Westward, as he had hoped.

    “He’s is totally responsible for the vessel and we wish him the best,” Graves said, “We’re all about helping the fishermen, but he lost the opportunity for us to work on the vessel; now we’re getting ready for the Ernestina.

    On Tuesday, both Upham and the Coast Guard confirmed that the Westward will be moved from Boothbay Harbor.

    “The owner has been contacted and he is in the process of making plans to transport the Westward to Portland Harbor,” Chief William Armstrong said. “Coast Guard Sector New England is working directly with the owner. The plan is the vessel will be transported to Portland to a mooring there.”

    Upham, who has been working diligently since Friday to see the vessel removed from Boothbay Harbor, said he was pleased that plans were underway to have the Westward towed to Portland.

    As of Tuesday, no specific time frame for the move had been set but the Westward is being watched to ensure it does not break free again.

    “We’re making rounds to ensure its secure on the mooring ball,” Armstrong said, “This (mooring on the Coast Guard ball) is not a long-term solution; it will be moved out of the harbor.”

    While preparations are made to move the Westward from Boothbay Harbor, on the other side of the Damariscotta River, its “sister” ship, the F/V Columbia, is still disturbing the natives there.

    Bristol officials have been working, so far unsuccessfully, to see the Columbia, which has also been “unmoored,” safely out of Pemaquid Harbor.

    Reached by phone on Tuesday, Sheehy said he was working to have both vessels relocated.

    “All I can say now is I’m working to move the Westward as quickly as possible,” Sheehy said. “Once I’ve settled that I’ll be working to move the Columbia.”

    National Marine Fisheries Service Permit Office in Gloucester said the Westward does hold valid commercial fishing licenses.