Metro

Calm lobsterman swims to safety after boat sinks off Marblehead

The rescue occurred off the tip of Tinkers Island.
Marblehead Harbormaster
The rescue occurred off the tip of Tinkers Island.

The voice was calm, even as the seas were not, Marblehead Harbormaster Mark Souza said. A lobsterman “indicated in a very calm and collected manner, he said he did not know how long he would have until his boat sank,’’ Souza said Thursday.

Souza and his staff started off toward the lobsterman’s last known location off the tip of Tinkers Island, where seas were between 3 and 4 feet in height, the tide was running in, and the fog was waxing and waning around 1 p.m. Tuesday.

Riding in the 31-foot Stacey H. Clark and a 27-foot boat called a Metal Shark, Souza and his staff kept in contact with the lobsterman, who had reported his dangerous situation over VHF radio.

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While he was working alone in the waters off the island, the lobsterman said, the propeller of his boat got entangled with the rope tying a lobster pot to the floor of the ocean, defeating the boat’s ability to rise and fall with each passing wave.

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Instead of bobbing over the waves, Souza said, the boat was squat and flat, essentially pinned to the surface of the Atlantic Ocean.

The boat “squatted down in the water. [The lobster pot] wouldn’t let the boat move,’’ Souza said. “Lobster boats carry a lot of gear on them. When the wave hit him, a lot of gear slid to one side of the boat and made the boat list to one side. . . . The waves came covering over and caused the boat to roll and sink.’’

Marblehead Harbormaster
The bow of the boat jutted above the surface of the sea.

The lobsterman ended up in the water and had to swim to the rocky shores of Tinkers Island, some 25 to 50 yards from where the 22-foot lobster boat was now under the waves but held in place by the tangled lobster line, Souza said. The bow jutted above the surface of the sea, he said.

Souza, who was on the metal boat, reached Tinkers Island, maneuvered the boat to shore, and gave the lobsterman a ride to land. The lobsterman, whom Souza contacted on the Globe’s behalf, declined to comment.

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He suffered minor injuries, most likely from climbing the rocks to shore and safety, Souza said.

Souza said the boat did not leak fuel, so there was no threat to the environment.

The boat was plucked from the sea by a salvage crew, Souza said. The fisherman lost a glove and some other minor things, he added.

“The gentleman did a very good job,” Souza said, in terms of providing the harbormaster staff with accurate information. “He’s been fishing these waters for a lot of years.’’

John R. Ellement
can be reached at ellement@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe.