Sunday, March 29

Coast Guard Rescues 3 from Sinking Fishing Trawler

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Here’s a story about a fishing boat in distress in the middle of the night off Fire Island, New York, a Coast Guard rescue, and determined owner, from Newsday.

It was 3:45 a.m., and the fishing trawler New Age was about 20 miles south of the Fire Island Inlet, heading to New Jersey to unload its catch with a crew of three. It had 1,500 pounds of fluke in the hold, the wind was blowing about 30 knots, and the swells were getting even the stern.

As the New Age started to list, the crew realized it was sinking. Billy Carman, 32, the captain, told Mike Havens, 49, to get the heavy duty pump, but Havens couldn’t find the coupling for the hose. Meanwhile, water kept climbing over the stern.

At 4:05 Carman made a distress call to the Coast Guard. The three men put on survival suits and got the life raft ready. The boat almost rolled over three times, and they were all perched on one side when a Coast Guard plane spotted them and tipped its wings.

The Coast Guard also had sent a 45-foot response boat from its base in Fire Island and a 47-foot lifeboat from Sandy Hook, New Jersey, to help the New Age. Caelan Harshaw, a petty officer first class, was at the helm of the response boat, and saw lights from the New Age first. He said it looked in pretty bad shape, with water sweeping over the stern.

When Harshaw’s boat reached the New Age, he learned that the third crewman, Mitchell Lester, had seriously injured his ribs in a fall. Harshaw decided to take him off first; Lester jumped in the water and Harshaw’s boat rescued him. A few minutes later a Coast Guard helicopter lifted Lester off the response boat and flew him to a hospital.

Carman and Havens said they wanted to stay with the New Age if the Coast Guard could give them a pump, but then a 10-foot swell hit the boat and almost sent it vertical. Harshaw ordered them off the New Age, and maneuvered his boat so he could pick them up from the water. At that point, the engines on the New Age died. Harshaw took the two men back to safety on Fire Island.

At it turned out, Chris Winkler, the owner of the boat, returned the next day from a ski trip in Colorado. He got his brother-in-law to use his boat to take Winkler out in the ocean to search for the New Age. They found it, boarded it with pumps and got it running again.

Winkler then drove the boat to the Belford Seafood Co-Op behind Sandy Hook to unload the catch. A few days later the New Age was back at its berth in Montauk.




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