LYME — After his sailboat grounded on Cherry Island in Guffin Bay, it took Andrew W. Bunn about a month and a half to repair it and find someone to tow it off the island.
“Things are looking good here,” Mr. Bunn said. “I really appreciate gestures and kindness people have shown me.”
Mr. Bunn, Chicago, a retired registered nurse and Iraq war veteran, said that after he cleans out his boat and has it stored at the Crescent Yacht Club marina, he intends to live in the area and find work. He may apply at Fort Drum or one of the local school districts as a substitute teacher.
“That’s the general plan,” Mr. Bunn said. “I’m open to everything.”
Mr. Bunn anchored his ship Aug. 16 near Marsh Point in Guffin Bay, on the Pillar Point peninsula, to purchase supplies in Watertown.
While he was shopping, Mr. Bunn said, he received a text message from the U.S. Coast Guard saying that his sailboat had run aground on Cherry Island. During a storm, his anchor rope broke and the bay’s current carried it 1.7 miles to Cherry Island, grounding it in the island’s shallows.
“And, of course, I lost the anchor,” Mr. Bunn said.
For more than 50 days, Mr. Bunn paddled back and forth between his ship and the dock of Kitto’s Marina, 23169 Kitto Marina Drive, Dexter, in a rubber dingy with supplies. He took a bus home to Chicago, where he picked up his truck and drove it back to Chaumont.
He then used his truck, which he picked up after a bus ride back to Chicago, to go to Watertown and purchase supplies to repair his craft.
The grounding punctured the hull, causing a hole and a foot-long crack. Mr. Bunn, however, said that he was able to repair it using epoxy, laminate and fiberglass.
The manager of Kitto’s Marina refused a request for comment, but Mr. Bunn praised the people there.
“These people have been a tremendous help,” he said.
While he was on land, Mr. Bunn contacted his 5-year-old daughter through Skype. Mr. Bunn’s daughter lives with his mother, and he said he intends to visit her soon.
“She misses me,” he said. “I usually make her a Halloween costume. I’m going to make her a ‘Brave’ costume.”
While he was repairing his boat, Mr. Bunn worked with Seaway Marine Group & TowBoatU.S., Clayton, to develop a method for towing the vessel off of the island without causing more damage.
Mr. Bunn said he was told to flip his sailboat away from the shoreline and elevate it off the ground so the company could tow it. Mr. Bunn used a jack to turn his sailboat over and elevated it with tires.
“It’s not easy work,” Mr. Bunn said. “There have been a few missteps.”
On Wednesday, however, negotiations between the company and Mr. Bunn “fell through.”
“I just didn’t want to do a cash transaction up front with no guarantees,” Mr. Bunn said. “It would be unwise for me. (The owner) said he wouldn’t do any other kind of transaction.”
Mr. Bunn said his boat was broken into six times, during which thieves stole his bicycle, a kayak paddle and a sailing board.
“People really took that as an opportunity to steal from me.” Mr. Bunn said. “That was really frustrating for me.”
Cherry Island is privately owned by Delos M. Cosgrove III, president and CEO of the Cleveland Clinic. Mr. Bunn said Mr. Cosgrove never contacted him about the situation. A man who claimed to be the caretaker of the island asked Mr. Bunn to leave so he could hunt, but Mr. Bunn said local residents told him they were skeptical of the man’s claim.
“He didn’t really seem to want to be in contact,” Mr. Bunn said.
Other than the original text, Mr. Bunn had little contact with the U.S. Coast Guard, although he reported one of the burglaries to the agency.
“They took down my phone number and never called me back,” Mr. Bunn said, but added that might be due to a lack of available phone service.
Katelyn E. Waddle, a public affairs representative for the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Buffalo, said all she knew regarding Mr. Bunn’s grounding was from the initial report on Aug. 16.
As more and more people took notice of Mr. Bunn’s predicament, several local residents worked together to help him free his sailboat from Cherry Island.
Mr. Bach said he reached out to Mr. Bunn on Monday after he heard about his grounding from local residents and saw his sailboat from Pillar Point.
“Nice guy,” Mr. Bach said. “Wish him luck.”
Amanda J. Miller, owner of Lake Ontario realty, said that after Mr. Bach removed his boat from shore, she and Chaumont resident Mark R. Ahlheim used her 31-foot motorboat to tow Mr. Bunn’s sailboat to the Crescent Yacht Club marina. Ms. Miller also said that she created a social media campaign to garner support.
Dexter resident Diantha E. Velasquez created a GoFundMe page to raise money for Mr. Bunn, Mrs. Miller said. The campaign raised $3,200, $1,200 more than it’s $2,000 goal.
Mr. Bunn said that a local “informal law and military group” paid his bill for Mr. Bach’s services.
“Everyone kind of sprung into action,” Ms. Miller said.
Prior to his maritime exploration, Mr. Bunn said he worked as a registered nurse for several hospitals throughout Chicago. He also served as an individual assets manager for the Marine Corps from 2002 to 2006 during the Iraq War.
After he retired last December, Mr. Bunn began sailing full-time in May. He set off on his voyage from Lake Champlain and sailed through the Richelieu River into the St. Lawrence at Ste. Joseph de Sorel, then up the St. Lawrence to Lake Ontario.
In addition to Watertown, Mr. Bunn said, he explored Montreal, Toronto and Ogdensburg.
“I just travel,” he said.
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