Wooden fishing vessel sinks

Coast Guard rescues two fishermen after 65-ft wooden dragger sinks off Gloucester coast
SEAFOOD.COM NEWS [Gloucester Daily Times] October 28, 2013

Crews from the U.S. Coast Guard and the Rockport harbormaster’s office pulled two fishermen from the waters of the

Atlantic late Friday night after their 65-foot fishing vessel took on water and sank roughly 3 miles off Rockport’s Thacher Island.

U.S. Coast Guard officials Sunday declined to identify the fishermen, who had been working aboard the 48-year-old dragger Terra Nova when the boat suddenly began taking on water sometime around 8:30 p.m. Friday.

As the boat was going down, the fishing crew members abandoned ship, according to Coast Guard reports. But a helicopter based out of Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod was able to locate the fishermen in the water, lift one into the copter and transport him to Massachusetts General Hospital, while the second fisherman was pulled into the Rockport harbormaster’s boat, then taken to Coast Guard Station Gloucester and transported from there to Addison Gilbert Hospital.

There remained no word Sunday regarding the condition of the fisherman who was taken by the Coast Guard to Mass. General; Rockport Harbormaster Scott Story said Sunday that the fisherman he transported to Coast Guard Station Gloucester was “conscious, alert, oriented — and very happy to see me.” But there was also no update regarding his condition as of Sunday afternoon.

In addition to Coast Guard Station Gloucester, Coast Guard Sector Boston and the Rockport harbormasters, the rescue response and effort also included a crew from Coast Guard Station Gloucester, and what Story and the Coast Guard called a number of “Good Samaritan volunteer fishermen who came in to help.”

Story said that the Terra Nova — built in 1965 as the fishing vessel Little Infant, and one of the few remaining wooden-hulled draggers remaining in the Cape Cod-based fishing fleet, records show — had already gone down when rescuers were combing the roughly 53-degree waters where the vessel had sent its emergency notification.

Story said, however, he was first able to see a large storage cooler in the water.

“I started to check that out just as the ’copter turned to light up the area,” he said. “And when it lit up the area, that’s when I could see the second guy in the water.”

Within minutes, Story and others had reached the man through choppy 4-to-6-foot seas and pulled him into the harbormaster’s vessel. The men had been in the 53-degree water for more than an hour, Coast Guard reports indicated, but Story noted that they had donned emergency immersion suits before leaving the sinking Terra Nova.

“You can’t say enough about all of the people who responded and helped,” said Story — adding that, while en route to the Gloucester Coast Guard Station, he kept turning and looking at the fisherman, whom rescuers had bundled in warm garments.

“I kept turning around to talk to him, and he just kept giving me the thumbs-up with a big smile on his face,” Story said.

Records show the Terra Nova was owned by Richard C. Merrill of South Wellfleet, but there was no indication as to whether he was one of the fishermen on board Friday night. He could not be reached Sunday.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard report, watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Boston first received notification at approximately 8:30 p.m. Friday that the Terra Nova was taking on water with two people aboard.

The crew reported 6 feet of water in the forward cabin of the vessel and indicated that the onboard pumps were not able to keep up with the flooding, Coast Guard officials said.

The Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew located the Terra Nova crew members in the water and relayed the position to the Coast Guard Station Gloucester 47-foot Motor Lifeboat crew. The Coast Guard crew then hoisted the first Terra Nova crew member into the helicopter and took him to Mass. General.

“A lot of teamwork and moving parts go into a case like this, so it was good to see both fishermen found quickly and given the medical attention they needed,” said Lt. Joe Klinker, 1st Coast Guard District public affairs officer.

“These fishermen, throughout the Northeast, play such an important role in our maritime community,” Klinker said. “That’s why we’re out there on patrol every day and we extend our best wishes to the two rescued tonight.

      • Updated - - -

One of two Mass. fishermen passes away after being rescued off Rockport coast over the weekend
SEAFOOD.COM NEWS [Bangor Daily News] by Stephen Betts - October 29, 2013

A Rockland fisherman credits his father-in-law with saving his life when the commercial fishing vessel the two were on sank three miles off the coast of Rockport, Mass., on Friday night.

David Oakes, 46, of South Thomaston died, Knox County Sheriff Donna Dennison confirmed Monday.

Later on Monday, Oakes’ son-in-law Jason Randall credited his father-in-law with saving his life.

Randall said Oakes had asked him to help bring back the 65-foot Terra Nova from Gloucester, Mass., where it had undergone repairs for the past three weeks. The work on the boat had been completed Thursday morning and Oakes and Randall had left Gloucester on Friday to bring the Terra Nova to Maine.

While they were steaming off Massachusetts, they noticed water pouring into the boat, according to Randall. He said Oakes immediately radioed the Coast Guard and asked whether they could fly out some pumps to help get rid of the water. The Coast Guard reported that the first distress call from the Terra Nova came in between 8:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. Friday.

“While David was on the radio, I went back down to the cabin and saw that a few more feet of water had come in just since he had been talking to the Coast Guard,” Randall said.

Randall said he ran to the pilot house and told Oakes, who notified the Coast Guard of the situation. Oakes then told Randall to put on a survival suit and Oakes donned one as well.

Randall said that as he was trying to get off the boat while it was sinking, he slipped and his father-in-law grabbed him and pushed him over the side to get clear of the vessel.

“That was the last time I saw him. His last act was to save my life,” Randall said.

The Rockland man said he was in the water for about two hours. The seas were about 4-6 feet and it was dark as he bobbed in the ocean.

“A lot of things went through my mind. I didn’t know if this was the end,” Randall said.

He saw a helicopter fly over him and surmised they had located Oakes.

Shortly after, Randall was pulled out of the water by Rockport, Mass., Harbor Master Scott Story. The harbor master brought Randall to shore at the Coast Guard facility and he was then taken by ambulance to Addison Gilbert Hospital in Gloucester, Mass.

“The first thing I said when he pulled me aboard was to ask about Dave. I was told he was being taken to the hospital but they did not tell me his condition,” Randall said.

Randall was treated and released from the hospital Friday night. The son-in-law said he has not been told what caused Oakes’ death.

According to the Coast Guard, a Jayhawk helicopter from its air station in Cape Cod had located the two men in the water and relayed their position to a 47-foot Coast Guard vessel from Gloucester which picked up one of the crewmembers at about 10:30 p.m. Though the Coast Guard would not confirm that it was Oakes, a press release indicated that man was then hoisted into the helicopter and flown to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

Also responding to the call for help were harbor masters from Rockport, Mass., members of the Massachusetts State Police, and local fishermen.

“A lot of teamwork and moving parts go into a case like this,” according to the news release from Lt. Joe Klinker from the Coast Guard’s public affairs office in Boston.

The Terra Nova is a wooden boat built in 1965 at the former Newbert & Wallace boatyard in Thomaston, Maine, according to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration website on vessel documentation. The name of the owner was not immediately available but the NOAA website stated that in November 2012 it was owned by a Richard Merrill of South Wellfleet, Mass.

Provincetown, Mass., Harbor Master Rex McKinsey said Monday that the vessel was in poor condition when he examined it a couple of months ago. He said it was an old, wooden boat that had not had a lot of attention paid to it.
McKinsey said he recommended that the boat undergo significant repairs or be decommissioned. The vessel was then taken to a boatyard in Gloucester and he had not seen it since.

Randall said he had been told by Oakes that several planks had been replaced at the shipyard in Gloucester.

The vessel had last been rigged to be a hydraulic clamming vessel, McKinsey said. The vessel would shoot high pressure water into a shellfish bed and force the clams out of their holes and then a large rake from the vessel would catch the clams, he explained.

Randall said he was not sure what Oakes planned to do with the boat once it came to the Rockland, Maine, area.
This was the second boat sinking in which Oakes was involved. In November 2004, he was aboard the Canadian Mist when it sank 32 miles southeast of Nantucket, Mass. All four crew members survived by donning survival suits.

Wow I grew up in Rockport and have known Harbormaster Scott Story since I was a kid. He has been pulling off rescues like that for decades. Awesome guy…

Terra Nova was a good looking boat. Spent a three months living next to her. She will be missed.

Thing had been hauled out for some time (mid sep, maybe earlier) and looked rough. Those old eastern rigs, almost all gone. Not surprised. It had been howling westerly all week and right around there the shit just stacks up steep with some current eddies.