I was heading over to the town pier to pick up Sue and 6 friends for a short boat trip and lunch at The Chartroom. I was about a mile due east of The Point when I spotted what I first thought was debris floating in the water.
As I got closer, I realized it was the bottom of a small aluminum skiff completely capsized with 4 men trying to hold on and two young children clinging to the hull and no one was wearing a life jacket and the youngest child, who looked 5, was crying uncontrollably.
Suddenly, all those years of watching Deadliest Catch came rushing back to me. I cut the engines and lowered my stern ladder. I then shouted over and asked “is everyone accounted for?”
They said — “yes, please save us.”
I grabbed the VHS and hollered out my best “PAN, PAN, PAN, this is the Mean Kitty. I am approaching a small skiff capsized, one mile east of Peases Point Mattapoisett. 6 souls on board — 4 men and 2 children, all accounted for, no life jackets, need help, I will attempt to rescue immediately.”
Within 10 seconds, the Woods Hole Coast Guard came back and asked me some questions, then told me they were sending a 45′ rescue boat. They agreed that I should attempt to rescue them myself and then call them back once I had them all on board, so proceeded.
“Can any of you swim.” I asked and the men all nodded. I then asked who was the best swimmer and told him that I’d pull as close as I could to the submerged boat and he should swim to my ladder, which he did. Once he got on board, I asked had the two other “good swimmers” swim over with the 5-year old and then the the rest.
I called the Coast Guard and reported all survivors were on board. They asked if anyone was injured. The 5-year old was still crying, but we determined he was just scared.
Next I told the “good swimmers” to go and tie a line to bow of the boat and try to right it, which they did. Surprisingly, the engine was still on the back and the plastic bag with their camera and cell phones were also still there.
By now, I’m getting VHS calls from the Mattapoisett Harbor Master and Police, as well as Marion and Fairhaven. I called the Coast Guard and asked for an ETA and they said “8 minutes,” which was about 25 minutes after the first call.
By the time they arrived I was surrounded by Mattapoisett Harbor Master (PJ Beaudoin) and Fire Department boat, The Fairhaven Harbor Master, The Marion Harbor Master, The Massachusetts Environmental Police, and Sea Tow.
Once I knew everyone was safe, all I wanted to do was to get the survivors and the Coast Guard off the Mean Kitty and untie the swamped boat so I could hurry up and go pick up Sue and our guests!
The Coast Guard said they’d take the survivors and they’re gear, but not the boat. Fortunately, PJ and the Mattapoisett Harbor Master took the swamped boat off my hands, so I was back on my way 50 minutes after I first stopped.