This tragic accident is both inspiring and heart wrenching, but it is also a reminder that quick and decisive action is imperative when there is trouble aboard.
A paraplegic skipper’s calm advice and quick distress call are being credited with helping save the lives of all but one of his friends as his pleasure fishing boat took on water in rough seas off Maine.
The 24-foot boat, Job Site 2, was anchored about five miles off Kennebunkport for a day of fishing for bluefin tuna on Friday when it began swamping and rolling.
Maine Marine Patrol Sgt. Rob Beal said skipper Nicholas Masi III of Biddeford calmly told the three other men on board to put on survival suits and issued a mayday with precise coordinates.
Moments after Masi radioed a distress call, the boat rolled over in 4- to 5-foot seas and 63-degree water, with few other boats nearby.
“If he hadn’t kept his head and radioed a distress call, it’s hard to say how long all four individuals would have been in the water,” Beal said. “You can only speculate from there.”
Masi, 45, said he did what he had to do to keep people alive but that he still lost a good friend, Douglas Isenberg, who died at the scene. The two had been close friends since second grade, Masi said.
“I hear they’re calling me a hero, but my best friend is gone,” he said.
Masi has used a wheelchair since he was paralyzed four years ago in an accident while working as a house builder.
On Friday, he and three friends from Biddeford took his Grady-White boat to a fishing spot where they anchored for a few hours on a beautiful fall day. Around 3 p.m., the wind and seas kicked up, and the boat started taking on water.
The boat’s anchor line got tangled in the propeller, and the battery then went dead, preventing Masi from driving the boat to safety, he said.
That’s when he instructed the others to put on their survival suits before getting on the radio and transmitting a distress call with his situation and location. Masi didn’t have time to put on his survival suit before the boat went under, putting on only a life jacket.
For the complete story, including how The Lady Erica, a Sabre on its maiden voyage, helped in the rescue, go to www.news.yahoo.com.