Lady M is still grounded on rocks off Contant Point.
The anonymous caller to St. John Tradewinds on Monday afternoon, November 24, identified himself as a “friend” of the boater who had harassed a liveaboard family of six to move their vessel farther from the outer edge of Great Cruz Bay mooring field during a stormy Saturday morning, November 22, resulting in the vessel dragging its reset anchor and being irreparably damaged in grounding on the rocks of Contant Point.
The caller, who identified himself as “Steve” and left his telephone number, criticized the November 24 Tradewinds report that an unknown boater had hectored the family’s four teenage children on Friday, November 21, about the family’s home, the 51-foot ketch Lady M, being too close to other moored vessels.
The harbor bully had returned on that Saturday morning when both parents were home to harangue the family again into moving in the midst of strong intermittent rain squalls.
“He didn’t swear at them,” said “Steve,” the otherwise anonymous caller. “He feels really bad about what happened,”
Six Months at Anchor
John and Sarah Hale and four of their six children had been living on the Lady M on the outer edge of Great Cruz Bay for more than six months, Sarah told Tradewinds after the grounding.
An experienced liveaboard sailor in addition to being a licensed boat captain working on St. John, John Hale knew he was a safe distance away from the neighboring moorings, and he knew the weather was stormy and resetting anchors always posed a risk that the new anchor settings might not hold. Hale also knew and that the boat’s engine needed minor repairs.
“Saturday morning the guy was back yelling and cursing at the kids that we had to move,” Hale’s wife Sarah told St. John Tradewinds on November 23. The Hale “kids” on board were Mary, 17; Jack, 16; Heidianna, 14, and Sterling, 12. The family has two other older children, Leona and Christina, both 19; Leona is on a mission for the family’s church in the Phillippines and Christina lives stateside.
“It’s just frustrating,” Sarah said of the man who harassed them into moving their anchors during foul weather. “We knew we were a safe distance from the moorings.”
“The kids were scared,” Sarah, a labor nurse at the Roy L. Schneider Hospital on St. Thomas, told St. John Tradewinds. “We moved the anchors and everything looked great.”
With new anchors set, John Hale was below deck making repairs to the engine when the children warned him that their boat was dragging anchor in the storm. By the time Hale could get topside it was too late, his wife said.
“Our son Jack tried; but it was already heading towards the rocks,” Sarah Hale said. “In 13 minutes our whole lives changed.”
Other Side Is Another Story?
“Why didn’t you ask him for his side of the story,” Steve said incongruously of his anonymous “friend” when St. John Tradewinds returned his November 24 call that evening.
“Steve” subsequently refused to identify his “friend” — although many in the boating community believe they know his identity.
“We did have some people come by to help,” Sarah had said after the grounding. “We got the kids off safely. We got off the boat in about 14 minutes.”
This reporter forgot to ask the anonymous caller whether his “friend” had stayed on scene to help the family relocate the vessel — or to help save the family’s “home” from being severely and perhaps irreparably damaged.