SAILBOAT SMASHED IN RIVER HIT-AND-RUN

Employees at Carriage House Marina in Sea Bright look over the Nonsuch catboat that they say was damaged beyond repair in the crash. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

A Sea Bright couple is asking for the public’s help in finding the boater who smashed into their prized sailboat while it was moored in the Navesink River off Red Bank this weekend.

Wendie Elovich and her husband, Tim Slaight, believe their 22-foot Nonsuch catboat, which was anchored in the mooring field off the Monmouth Boat Club, was struck by a fast-moving motorized vessel sometime between Saturday evening and Sunday morning.

“It looks like it washed up on a beach in a hurricane,” said Lance Cunningham, owner of Carriage House Marina in Sea Bright, where the sailboat was towed Monday morning. “It’s a wonder it didn’t sink.”

Elovich says it’s a wonder someone wasn’t killed. In fact, she wonders if someone wasn’t.

Elovich said she went back to the scene of the accident Sunday evening on a hunch that perhaps the boat that hit hers had sunk, taking its pilot down with it. But she couldn’t see anything in the murky water, and trying to entice the marine unit of the State Police back out to the scene to look was futile.

“The marine patrol actually said, ‘if somebody is reported missing, we’ll go looking,'” she said. “I don’t think that’s a good enough response. There is a possibility somebody is out there.”

Elovich and Slaight, who bought and restored the boat this spring, put some finishing touches on the vessel Saturday before having supper at the club and heading home. Members of a wedding celebration that continued afterward at the club said they didn’t hear the collision, nor did a club member who spent the night on his boat at the dock, Elovich said.

The boat that hit theirs did extensive exterior and interior damage, bending the single mast in the process. The side of the hull was smashed and gouged, and the cabin roof, which was cracked, showed signs that the other boat had ridden up over it, said Carriage House yard manager Mike Petersen.

“I think the boat just went up and over it it,” said Petersen. “That’s why it’s covered in bottom paint. Whoever hit it’s got some damage, I’ll tell you that.”

Cunningham said the speeding boat may have traveled through the middle of the mooring field at a high rate of speed, “which is just insane.”

Cunningham and Petersen said the second boat will likely show up in some repair yard, if it hasn’t already.

Elovich said Red Bank police told her they didn’t have the ability to investigate the crime, and deferred to the State Police, whose members “didn’t even have a camera. They said they’re understaffed and underfunded,” she said.

The crash occurred nearly a year after a collision of two boats that left Keansburg man dead and the operator of the boat that struck his charged with drunken boating.

Elovich said speeding laws on the river are poorly enforced. The mooring zone has posted no-wake signs and is outside the boating channel.

“If we had been out there, we would have been killed,” Elovich said. “We all think this is friendly water, but it is scary.”