The Coast Guard airlifted four crew members from a grounded trawler off Southern Shores, N.C., on Tuesday, Dec. 7, after receiving a distress call from the captain at about 7:30.

The 78-foot Bald Eagle II grounded in rough seas, as the Graveyard of the Atlantic laid claim to another fishing vessel incident this morning on the heels of several East Coast groundings last week.

On fire and foundered

“The water temperature near Southern Shores is currently 56 degrees, which is dangerous had these four men not been prepared,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Timothy Hall, operations unit controller for Sector North Carolina. “Fortunately, these men were wearing survival suits to prevent hypothermia when our rescue helicopter arrived.”

All crew onboard were wearing survival suits, according to the Coast Guard. No injuries were reported.

The shrimp trawler Jonathan Ryan grounded at Cape Hatteras National Seashore on Monday, Nov. 29. Just a few weeks ago, the scalloper Ocean Pursuit had to be taken apart and removed from the beach after more than 18 months of settling into the sand on a strip of coast known as the Graveyard of the Atlantic.

The Northeast trawler Carrabassett was refloated on Saturday after five days on a Cape Cod Beach.

Groundfish trawler Carrabassett refloated

Locals captured the Bald Eagle II rescue on video, including this one from Kristine Kiousis/OBXToday.com

On fire and foundered: A rough week for East Coast commercial fishing boats

With at least two boats stove up on beaches and one burned, it’s been a hard week for East Coast commercial fishing boats.

The shrimp trawler Jonathan Ryan grounded at Cape Hatteras National Seashore on Monday, Nov. 29. Just a few weeks ago, a scalloper had to be taken apart and removed from the beach after more than 18 months of settling into the sand on a strip of coast known as the Graveyard of the Atlantic.

The Jonathan Ryan ran up on the beach at Hatteras National Seashore in the so-called Graveyard of the Atlantic and was safely refloated on Nov. 29. National Park Service photo

The National Park Service staff at the seashore worked with the captain of the Jonathan Ryan and the Coast Guard to free the vessel before it reached the beach, just over a mile from the seashore’s Frisco Campground.

The Cape Hatteras National Seashore posted on Monday afternoon that the quick response of all parties worked to set the vessel afloat again safely the same day.

The seashore is no stranger to shipwrecks and near-misses. The grounded 72-foot scalloper Ocean Pursuit became a tourist attraction when covid-related restrictions prevented the owner from traveling from Texas to the Outer Banks to facilitate the vessel’s salvage.

On March 1, 2020, the Ocean Pursuit ran aground just north of Oregon Inlet. As the months passed, the boat settled so deep in the sand that the park service had to post signs warning tourists from treating the stranded boat like a playground.

The scalloper Ocean Pursuit was on the beach in Cape Hatteras, N.C., from March 2020 to November 2021. National Park Service photo

Salvage crews began dismantling the scalloper at the end of October, hauling the pieces to a scrapyard. The park service reported that the monthlong project cost $295,000.

F/V Carrabassett

In the early-morning hours of Tuesday, Nov. 30, the 78-foot groundfish trawler Carrabassett, once owned by Carlos “The Codfather” Rafael, grounded on the beach in Truro, Mass., near the Highland Lighthouse with a crew of five onboard.

“The outrigger on the starboard side had gotten tangled underneath the keel,” said Keith Decker, CEO for Blue Harvest Fisheries, which now owns the Carrabassett. “I don’t know if that was the issue that caused the grounding or not.”

The owners hired a tugboat service to try to float the vessel free on Wednesday morning, given that the next high tide around 8 p.m. on Tuesday night was several hours after sunset.

As of Thursday morning, the vessel was still aground.

“We had to get permission from the Coast Guard, from the National Seashore, from the city of Truro and three homeowners,” Decker told NF. “That’s really what the delay has been. Most of the issue primarily has to do with removing something off a national beach.”

Blue Harvest Fisheries refloated its 78-foot groundfish boat Carrabassett on Saturday, Dec. 4. Blue Harvest Fisheries photo

Now that the fishing company has retained permits from the town of Truro and the Cape Cod National Seashore, as well as permission from local property owners to move heavy equipment onto the beach, they plan to begin excavation in advance of the next high tide.

In the meantime, Decker reports that the captain and the crew are all fine. The captain is still on the boat, and they hope that at the latest the vessel should be refloated by Saturday morning, if all goes well.

“We’ve already had somebody on the boat, and the boat looks fine,” Decker said. “There have been no leaks or discharges, and the Coast Guard says the same.”

F/V Dark Star

Also on Tuesday, the F/V Dark Star caught fire at Journey’s End Marina in Rockland, Maine.

Flames were high with thick smoke filling the sky when the Rockland Fire Department arrived shortly before 9:30 p.m.

The Dark Star caught fire at Journey’s End Marina in Rockland, Maine. Stephen Betts photo

Rockland Fire Chief Chris Whytock said the scallop boat is owned by Erik Waterman, according to the Knox Village Soup.

“There was a person doing work for the owner on the boat,” Whytock said. “The resin he was mixing to complete the work on the deck became too hot and started on fire. It spread quickly to the back side of the wheelhouse, and was unable to be extinguished.”

Though the boat was within a few feet of the marina buildings, firefighting crews were able to keep the fire from spreading and wrapped efforts to put out the fire about an hour and a half later.

No injuries were reported, but the vessel was heavily damaged.

Jessica Hathaway is the former editor in chief of National Fisherman.

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