Heron RIP ?

The schooner Heron was involved in a collission with a tugboat, and is reported on the bottom. Bob and his 2 daughters aboard got off OK

www.nj.com article here.

Heron sinking; another report

What a shame! Glad to know they are OK.

This was on the Chesapeake Bay yahoogroup this morning. The original source was not cited in the posting.

Greg DeCowsky
Chair, Schooner CASHIER Restoration
Bayshore Discovery Project
Bivalve, NJ

The Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, a major transit point for cargo
ships headed to and from the Port of
Baltimore, was closed Monday following a collision between a tugboat and
a sailboat, authorities said.

The Army Corps of Engineers ordered that the canal linking the
Chesapeake and Delaware bays closed while crews work to remove the
wreckage of the sailboat Heron, which sunk after colliding about 3 a.m.
with the tugboat Schuylkill just west of Chesapeake City.

Scott Winslow, a search and rescue controller with the Coast Guard in
Baltimore, said he did not know how long the canal would be closed.

"That's the million dollar question," he said.

The 14-mile canal cuts through the northern Maryland-Delaware peninsula.
It provides a shortcut of about 300 miles for marine traffic between
Philadelphia and Baltimore, saving ships from having to make a long
journey around the southern end of the peninsula.

As of 1 p.m. Monday, the closing had affected two large container
vessels, as well as six tugs and barges, Winslow said.

Three people aboard the Heron, which was eastbound under engine power at
the time of the collision, were treated at Union Hospital in Elkton for
minor injuries and released, Winslow said.

Winslow said the wreckage of the Heron, a 45-foot wooden schooner built
in 1911 and based out of Port Monmouth, N.J., remained a hazard for
shipping, and that a three-foot section of its mast jutted above the
surface of the water.

While Coast Guard officials are broadcasting advisories every 30
minutes, many smaller vessels that use the canal are not equipped with
radios, Winslow said. "We don't want anybody to get hurt," he said.

A fuel barge that the Schuylkill was towing to Baltimore did not appear
to have suffered any damage, Winslow said.

HERON - any help needed?

Actually, it was a sailnet group posting.

If anybody hears from Bob, I live right in that area (on the Elk River), he should call or email me if he needs any help. 302.545.5164

Greg DeCowsky
Chair, Schooner CASHIER Restoration
Bayshore Discovery Project
Bivalve, NJ

Heron photos and video being raised from it's sinking

My husband John took still pictures and over 2-hours of video of the Heron being raised in front of our house on May 15, 2007 after sinking in the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal. Video's will be posted to me website at http://www.GreenTV.com

Thank you,



I live on the other side of the Delaware in Salem, Co. NJ and am about 30 minutes away. If Bob needs help he can call on me as well. I'm retired and can be available at any time. (856) 769-5594
Bill Hamilton

HERON's condition?


Could you tell what condition she was in?

Tom Mears of STELLA POLARIS in Galena (15 min. from here) called me. He is available to help too if needed.

Has anyone heard from Bob?

Greg DeCowsky
Chair, Schooner CASHIER Restoration
Bayshore Discovery Project
Bivalve, NJ

Heron lifted

Thank you for those pictures. I hope to know more of her soon, but in the meantime your photos give hope.

Good to hear all are safe

Bobby,Roberta and family
Great to hear all are safe and back at home. Don't hesitate to call on us for help.

Our thoughts are with you

Bob, we are so gald to hear that all of you are safe. Our hearts go out to you over this tragedy. Heron was a gem and you had done a masterful job of restoring her. Please let us know her ultimate fame and what if anything we can do to help.

Jim, Norie & Nikki, Schooner Splendid

Good to hear all are ok

Having been through this canal at night I wanted to point to the folks outside of the area that the currents are significant enough that you don't want to make this run against the current in a slow boat.

Secondly much of the main part of the canal to the east of the collision point is really well lit by light poles on either side - but as you come out the western side you transition to following buoys marking the channel where the tendency is to head for the next buoy. This can put the two vessels on a very similar course, because its hard to tell visually at night whether you are hugging the outside of the channel, hugging the inside of the channel, or going up the centerline of the channel. Outside the channel it can get shallow in spots so there isn't much room for error to go wide of the channel in a sailboat. This is a really risky part of the canal at night for a helmsperson without a lot of experience.

Best of luck

I'm very happy to hear that all are safe. What can I do to be of service?
Ted Romanosky, Sch. Good Fortune


I would like to thank all of you for the kind words and offers to help. It is unbelievable how kind everyone has been to my family and I and we do appreciate it.

Heron's hull is now laying on a barge in a Coast Guard Station in Baltimore. The Coast Guard's investigation is complete so Ann Marie, Susan and I will be heading down there next week to see what condition she is in and get whatever personal items we can find (if there are any).

Bob Pulsch

Herons hull

Thank you Bob for staying with us on this. You have done such a wonderful thing in keeping Heron alive. I think she is now one of the most beautiful schooners of all time. To think that I always thought she was special even tho badly hogged. It never mattered to me much as we had such wonderful times sailing on Penobscot bay.
If you like I will send you a private line and give you my real address.

account of the accident

Safety training helps save family in schooner crash

Monday, May 21, 2007

Gannett New Jersey

Robert Pulsch was watching the global positioning system on his sailboat, and his oldest daughter was at the helm, as they traveled through the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, bringing his wooden schooner back to Atlantic Highlands from its winter storage spot in Maryland.

It was around 3:30 a.m. and cold. His youngest daughter worries about her 73-year-old dad, so Susan Pulsch Petracco went below to grab gloves and a hat for him.

That's when Robert Pulsch of Middletown, Monmouth County, saw the bright, blinding spotlight of the tugboat. It looked like it was dead-center, heading for his sailboat.

But it also seemed to be about 300 feet away. He thought they had enough time to get out of the way. He told his daughter Ann-marie, 47, of Richmond, Va., to swing the tiller and move the sailboat to the left.

He never saw the big black oil barge that tugboat was pushing. They crashed. Robert and Ann-marie Pulsch were thrown overboard. Pulsch Petracco was trapped below.

Pulsch Petracco, 34, of Point Pleasant, believes the boating safety and lifesaving courses she and her family completed helped save their lives.

"I grew up sailing and racing boats, and what saved me was all my training that I have been able to take," she said.

She is the youngest of six children -- five girls and one boy -- and their parents made sure all six learned how to sail.

When she was 7 years old, she took courses at the Keyport Yacht Club. Later, she raced with local clubs and on the sailing team at the University of Rhode Island.

She took first aid and lifesaving classes, completed the Coast Guard Auxiliary's boating skills and seamanship courses and is a U.S. Sailing judge-in-training. She and her husband, Christopher, were married at a regatta.

She has sailed with her father for years, but last week's trip was to be her first on the Heron, a schooner built in 1911, bought by her father in the 1990s, and after restoration, re-launched in 2002.

On May 13, Robert Pulsch and two of his daughters started their trip home. They came up the Chesapeake and anchored for the night, just before the canal. They had dinner, and around 3 a.m. Monday, they began to sail again with a favorable current that would help push them through the waterway that connects the Chesapeake and Delaware bays.

"My daughter Ann-marie and I were in the back cockpit," Robert Pulsch said. "We just went into the water, boom! Susan was down below, getting gloves for me. She didn't even know what happened."

He was underwater. He couldn't tell if he was heading up or down.

"I said, "just settle down a second,' I had to be going up," he said. "I paddled and paddled and paddled until I broke the surface of the water."

Ann-marie Pulsch had already surfaced.

A package, containing a life raft for six, had been under the cockpit seat. Now it was supporting his daughter Ann-marie, he said.

"God put it there for her," he said.

He began to call for help and grabbed a cockpit cushion to keep buoyant. The tugboat crew put their vessel in reverse, cut the engine and tossed life rings.

But he was too far away from the tugboat to be pulled in. Meanwhile, water rushed into the sailboat, and Pulsch Petracco was trapped inside.

Water rushes in

"I've never seen a boat fill up so quickly in my life," Pulsch Petracco said.

Before the crash, she had gone down the steps, past the first set of bunks and galley to a V-bunk at the front of the 45-foot-long boat, to retrieve the hat and gloves.

After the crash, as water poured in, she had to make her way back.

She tried to get to the companionway, the doorway to the cabin, but there was debris on the other side, blocking her way out.

She thought the boat was breaking up. Now she knows that debris was the aft mast, the larger of the boat's two masts. It broke off, bringing a sail and two booms with it.

She couldn't get out. Water continued to pour in.

She pushed her way up to the skylights where she was able to breathe in some air, but then she went down again, to get to the doorway. The debris was still blocking it.

She was swallowing water. She had been wearing a fleece Neck Gator, a sort of mini-scarf often used by skiers to block the wind. She shoved it in her mouth, figuring the water would have to filter through the fleece before it got to her lungs.

Fight for life

"I was doing anything possible," she said. "I decided I was not going to die like this. I was looking for pockets of air inside the hull, but I couldn't find anything."

By then, the boat was submerged and starting to roll. Suddenly, the debris dislodged.

She began to swim. It was dark. She didn't know if she was going the right way.

Then she surfaced and touched metal.

When the boats collided, the schooner was on the left, or port side of the barge. But when she surfaced, she was on its right, or starboard side.

She and her family believe the Heron was rolling underneath the barge, and as the boat rolled and sank, she was able to swim out.

Heavy clothing

When she surfaced, she began to yell for help. She couldn't tread water; her clothes were too heavy. She was wearing offshore sailing boots, a pair of fleece pants, foul-weather pants over them, a turtleneck, a heavy wool sweater and a down ski jacket.

She tried to pull her clothes off. Then she felt a life ring that was tossed to her.

"I got myself into a life ring, and I don't remember what happened after that," she said. "I remember waking up on the barge. At that point, I was in and out of consciousness. I was seconds from drowning . . . (But) I had taken all these courses throughout all my years of sailing. Instinct kicked in, and I didn't panic."

Both she and her sister were pulled aboard the tugboat, then brought ashore, their father said.

"I thought Susan would never make it out of that hull," he said, choking up. "I didn't see it happen. It all happened so fast. I was just beside myself that Susan was never going to make it out. Then Ann-marie shouted that they had Susan, too. It made my day. It was a miracle."

Captain's effort

Meanwhile, Robert Pulsch had grabbed the life ring, but he was too far away from the tugboat to be pulled in. The captain jumped overboard and swam toward the 73-year-old.

At the Union Memorial Hospital in Maryland, they were treated well, he said. Doctors and nurses warmed them with blankets and told them their body temperatures had dropped to about 95 degrees, he said.

"It's unbelievable," her father said. "It was just a miracle. The only way that you can explain it was God was there and did it for us."

Reach Michelle Sahn at msahn@app.com


Any recent news?

Jim and Sandy Davis
S/V Isa Lei