On Sunday evening, a fisherman’s wife arrived at Tenants Harbor public landing to pick her husband up from checking his pilings on Rackliff Island, St. George, Maine. After numerous calls that went to voicemail and thirty minutes past the pickup time, she called 911.
The Maine Marine Patrol, St. George Fire Department, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the Knox Country Sherriff’s Office responded to the call.
The man had left the mainland in a small skiff to retrieve parts of a dock that had gone astray during the recent coastal storms.
The first responders received a tip from a property owner claiming they heard a voice yelling for help on a nearby island. The rain had already begun, and a nor’easter Monday morning was to follow. The rescue team stated they were determined to find the man and get him safely.
Marine Patrol units headed to Rockland while others drove to Tenants Harbor. The St. George Fire Department headed toward the islands with gear in hand. During the all-hands-on-deck procedure, the captain of F/V Miller Time, Ryan Miller, heard the call from his boat and stayed in the area in case he could help. Miller eventually assisted a search party of four firefighters searching for the individual.
The man was spotted shortly after 5 p.m. on Northern Island, an island near Rackliff. The part of the island that he was on was not easily accessible, and according to the Pen Bay Pilot, Miller’s boat was too large to come ashore. They had to wait for the Marine Patrol Skiff to bring the additional rescue team closer to the island. The rescuers brainstormed the best way to get him to safety and considered strapping him to a Stokes litter and floating him 50 feet to the boat.
Fire Chief Chris Leavitt turned down this idea, as the man had already spent too much time in the ocean that evening. The man had hoped to walk to the house on the other side of the rocky island with the rescue team, though local islanders had warned the rescue party that there was much rough terrain through the woods in addition to the rain coming down. The man’s energy faded quickly, and the team had no choice but to strap him into the Stokes.
During the time it took to get the fisherman settled in the Stokes, an additional carrying team had worked their way through tidal pools and onto the island. Pen Bay Pilot repoerted that there were 17 personnel to get the man across the islands, five more Marine Patrol officers, and the Coast Guard.
The fisherman’s wife and an ambulance were waiting at the dock for the man and the rescue team, who arrived around 8 p.m.
The St. George Fire and Rescue stated, “While tonight’s outcome feels like a victory, we do not know at this time what the future holds for our patient. Please keep him and his family in your thoughts on his road to recovery.”