LE PAPILLON: Teenager Crashes Dad’s Pinky Schooner?

Papillon Aground

All kinds of rumors have been swirling about regarding the mortal remains of this 48-foot Thomas Colvin pinky schooner, Le Papillon, that went aground on Fire Island back on March 31. The photo you see here, from Will Van Dorp’s Tugster blog, was taken just a few days ago and shows how the boat is being consumed by beach sand.

The gist of the rumors is as follows: Bertil Haney, 19, of Harrington, Maine, with two others as crew–Daniel Bolander and Victoria Parsons, both 20–borrowed Le Papillon, which purportedly belongs to Haney’s father, from a marina in Baltimore and took off for Maine sometime last month. Reportedly, they ran aground soon after leaving the marina, again on the New Jersey shore, and finally much more permanently on Fire Island. Reportedly, too, Haney did not have permission to take the boat. The boat’s documentation, it should be noted, lists one Bertil James Haney as the owner, and cites Bertil James Haney and Thomas Francis Lemm as previous owners.

Not long after going aground the boat was listed for sale on Craigslist for $15,000, but the listing has since been taken down. Allegedly, it was not posted by the boat’s owner, but by some creative local salvage artist. Currently it is believed the owner is seeking permits to have the boat pulled out and trucked off the island, but may be thwarted in this, as the boat and truck together exceed the weight limit for the one poorly maintained bridge to the mainland.

Papillon Aground
Another view of Le Papillon in her current state/Photo by Will Van Dorp

The boat is well known in the cruising community. I remember anchoring near her once at Coral Bay in St. John’s many years ago, and I admired her greatly at the time. I’ve always had a soft spot for pinkies, so I do hope Papillon somehow manages to get off that beach. She is built out of steel, so can easily survive all this abuse, though of course she’ll need a massive refit if she ever floats again.

Papillon Aground

If you’re hot on pinkies yourself, there’s another well-known Colvin pinky in steel, Tusitala, currently for sale in Maine. The broker representing her, David Etnier, is my uncle, so you can tell him I sent you.

Tusitala under sail
Tusitala, sister to Le Papillon, under sail

You can read a proper (if all too brief) news story about Papillon here; and here’s some banter at a lively cruiser’s forum, plus a curious blog post. For more great pix check out both Tugster and Saltaire38.


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6 Responses
  1. kevin mcmillan

    Bless Le Papillon. I sailed on her as crew from Darwin to Durban in ’86. Lovely craft. Hope she’s ship shape again soon 🙂

    Kevin McMillan
    Los Angeles

    1. ROSS

      Hi Kevin,
      What are you up to?
      Fellow crew member Rossco from Aus.
      That was a trip to remember but if I recall you and the Scot got off in Mauritius, Yes?
      Anyway drop us a line,
      Ross McLEAN
      And yes I did get my master’s for square Rig.

  2. Troy N. Ingram

    Hey Charles, I found your uncle’s schooner on the hard and was wondering if I could get some info and contact information about if it’s still for sale. It looks like she could use some tender loving care. Thank you for your time and help.
    A tallship sailor, fair winds and following seas, Troy

    1. Charles Doane

      Hi Troy: My uncle David got out of the brokering business a few years ago now. I have no info on whether that schooner Tusitala is for sale. If there’s no For Sale sign on it, my first guess would be it isn’t. Where did you find her???

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