The (usually) not-so-thrilling adventures of a Safe/Sea Rescue Boat Captain.
Upper Bay Action
Pete Andrews - Friday, May 21, 2010
Suffice to say that anyone who's been paying attention to the Rhode Island Boating scene this week is sick of seeing the horrid story of last Saturday night's debacle at Despair Island replayed over and over, so I'm going to gloss right over Sunday's main job and continue on with the more routine aspects of my week of boat driving. If anybody has any question they want to ask about the accident recovery job, leave me a comment, and I'll try to answer it, but please don't ask about the accident itself because I wasn't there, and I don't know exactly what happened.
Rumor has it that the striper action continues in the Upper Bay, north of Conimicut, and our job log bears that fact out. A full 40% of our cases originated north of Conimicut Light this week, and I delivered no less than 3 customers back to the India Point Ramp myself. It's been a busy early season for us so far. In fact, our number of jobs hasn't been this high this early since 2006.
Here's one of my India Point runs from earlier this week. I like it up there, as it's almost always a mill pond.
The Proline below was fishing just off Rocky Point and she needed to go back to Haines Park. Unfortunately, I was on my way back from another India Point run, and I was driving our smaller single-engine boat, the Safe/Sea Titan, and thus couldn't high-speed this job. Oh well, it wasn't far anyway...
As a final note this week, it looks like a busy weekend coming up, as the boating weather looks pretty darn good. One of our boats will be at the boating safety extravaganza at Brewer Cove Haven Marina on Saturday as long as it's not needed on the bay to tow customers, so stop by and see us if you're in the area. Also, there's a big dinghy racing regatta off Wickford happening Saturday and Sunday, so keep your eyes peeled for a bunch of single and double handed in the lower West Passage. Otherwise, have a great boating weekend and here's hoping you just wave at us as we pass by!
This week marked my first pre-dawn wakeup call of the season. When the weather is not ideal and the phone rings at 0245 on a Wednesday morning, you know it going to be bad, and it was. All I had to go on from our dispatcher, Nick LeBlanc, was a USCG report of a vessel hitting a nav aid somewhere off Quonset Point and sinking.
Capt. Phil and I got underway as quickly as we could and were on scene at the Electric Boat gantry crane and dock by around 0310 or so. As you can see from the first photo, the scene was pretty ugly.
When a high speed boat comes to a screeching halt, bodies fly and have collisions of their own, as you can see from the blood-spattered console and seats. Thankfully, there appears to have been no permanent damage to the occupants.
As you can see, the same can't be said for the boat, which was heavily damaged. The buoy in question, the red #6 directly off Quonset held up better that the boat, but still showed some signs of the force of the collision. Notice in particular, the 'X' shaped steel angle iron that is bowed inward from the impact, and the pronounced cant of the electronics box in the center of the buoy.
Judging from the damage discovered after the casualty was hauled out, the boat hit the buoy very squarely and then went over the top of it, as there was fiberglass damage along the full length of the bottom, and the port outboard was missing its skeg.
I'll leave the details of the operation to Capt. Phil, whose salvage blog will be starting up next week. Everything went as planned and we had the casualty hauled out at Pleasant Street Wharf around 0915 Wednesday morning.
This post is coming to you as I sit at the mouth of Greenwich Bay Sunday at about 1300, waiting for my next job.
As you can imagine, last week was quite bereft of on-the-water towing work, as people must actually get underway to need a tow, apparently. Yesterday was a decent day weather-wise, and turned out pretty well job-wise as well.
At right is Capt. John of the Shayla Leigh, a very nice 24' Seaswirl Striper that had a dead battery Saturday morning in the Sakonnet River near buoy #8 north of Fogland Point. It was a lovely day for a boat ride, so I decided to take the "outside" route to the Sakonnet from Wickford, down the West Passage, around Beavertail, through the fishtrap area between Ocean Drive, Newport and Land's End, past Second and Third Beach, and up the Sakonnet to Fogland. The Shayla Leigh started right up once I put a little juice to her, and I was on my way to complete my circumnavigation of Aquidneck and Conanicut Islands by taking the inland route home.
I took a leisurely run through the Tiverton Basin, and then went a little faster to get myself in position for more jobs in the East Passage. Not much happended for a couple of hours, then we got a call from a 28' Bayliner that had hit a submerged object in the vicinity of the spindle at the entrance to Greenwich Bay. Capt. Phil was closest, and was on scene in about 5 minutes. The "Miss Dee" had completely torn her outdrive from it's socket and was taking on water. Phil got the flooding under control quickly, and by the time I got there, he had the casualty in tow for Brewer's Greenwich Bay. That's Capt. Phil with the Miss Dee in tow with the Safe/Sea Salvor at right.
After Phil completed the Miss Dee job and she was safely hauled out of the water at Brewer's, Phil met up with me in Greenwich Bay and we headed for home. Shortly after we had tied up and were shutting down the boats for the evening, a 3rd party radio call came in, reporting a large sailboat aground in the area of Dutch Island. Phil and I both scrambled to re-light our diesels and head out to see what was up. As it turns out, I found a 53' Swan lightly aground just north of Austin Hollow. After making arrangements with her Captain, I put a line on her bow and had her free of the bottom in just a few minutes. I don't have a picture of that job, but I might have some video from my onboard camera system, so I'll post it later this week if I do.
So, all things considered, it was a fun and profitable Saturday. I'll wrap up the weekend Monday or Tuesday.
Memorial Day Weekend, the "official" start of summer (in my mind, anyway) has come and gone, and, if it's any indication of how the rest of the season is going to go, we're in for a busy one. Everyone got into the act this weekend, even Capt. Doug out at Block Island, which is usually pretty quiet this early in the season. Be sure to check out Doug's blog, which features a daily photo from the island all summer long!
Anyway, let's get to the tow jobs. Sunday didn't really get going until the late afternoon and evening, and I am the early boat on Sundays, so I only did one job that day. It was a 24 foot Four Winns that you can see me shortening up at right as we head into the Warwick Cove entrance channel.
I was early boat again on Monday, and again, the action didn't start until nearly noontime. We were all hanging around on the dock checking equipment when a "Mayday" call came across the radio. It was readily apparent that the skipper issuing the distress call had a serious issue, so Capt. Phil jumped aboard with me on the Safe/Sea Newport and we headed out to Gould Island as quickly as we could.
In the meantime, we learned that the vessel in distress was a 24 foot Bayliner that had a fire aboard. According to the skipper, there was a lot of black smoke coming from the engine room, but no visible flame. As we were in transit, the smoke started to dissipate, and both Capt. Phil and I expected to find an overheated engine and a melted hose or two.
Capt. Phil and I arrived on scene first, and I put him aboard the casualty immediately to assess the situation. When we arrived, there was no smoke, no flame, and the vessel was floating on her lines. The couple aboard was a little rattled, but very much in control. A quick peek into the engine room confirmed what we had expected; the engine got too hot and an exhaust hose partially melted, producing a great deal of nasty smelling smoke.
The customer was a member, so we starting rigging to tow them back into NETC just when the DEM boat and USCG 41 footer were arriving. Once we told them the situation, we were on our way to NETC with the Bayliner in tow. The second picture is taken at the ramp dock in the NETC marina right after Capt. Phil had signed off on the job and we were about to head home.
Kudos to the captain of the Bayliner, who did the right thing by issuing a coherent Mayday, keeping his cool, and not panicking.