‘It would have been a dis­as­ter’

Fish­er­men rally to help one of their own af­ter boat sinks at wharf

Tri-County Vanguard - - COVER STORY - BY KATHY JOHNSON TRICOUNTY VAN­GUARD

Fish­er­men in Yar­mouth and Shel­burne coun­ties ral­lied to­gether days be­fore the start of the lob­ster sea­son to help one of their own af­ter the ves­sel The Ex­treme One sunk at the Lower East Pub­nico wharf late last Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon.

Fish­ing boat cap­tain Bran­don Surette and his crew had just fin­ished load­ing all their lob­ster pots and gear when the in­ci­dent hap­pened on Nov. 28.

“My bat­ter­ies don’t hold much of a charge, so we were fear­ing if we let them go down we might be in a pickle dump­ing day,” ex­plained Surette, so he started up the boat to let the bat­ter­ies charge up a little bit.

“Af­ter a few min­utes the high­wa­ter alarm started go­ing off,” said Surette.

At first Surette said he thought all the wa­ter from the stern had gone for­ward to the bow be­cause of the weight aboard and that trig­gered the alarm. Then when one of the crew told him “the ex­haust wasn’t blow­ing out wa­ter which it is sup­posed to.”

Surette took a look in the en­gine room through the hatches in the wheel­house.

“When I opened that up you could hear the wa­ter just gush­ing in. When you can see wa­ter up for’d you know there’s some­thing wrong. Within 15 min­utes she sunk. Within 15 min­utes she was gone.”

Only a small sec­tion of the stern was vis­i­ble above the wa­ter.

Surette said the ex­haust “blew right off” leav­ing an eight-inch hole in the hull.

“Once that came off there was no way of stop­ping it. When it went, it went. It’s a shame but the main thing, and it was bound to hap­pen, prob­a­bly the best place to hap­pen was at the wharf. If it had hap­pened two or three miles off it would have been a dis­as­ter.”

Other fish­er­men im­me­di­ately stepped up to help.

That af­ter­noon and evening fish­er­men re­moved as much of the gear as they could be­fore the ves­sel sunk and re­sumed the re­cov­ery ef­fort once a crane was brought in to raise the ves­sel that evening.

“We’re get­ting her raised back up and try to get him fish­ing,” said Kirby Mal­one of T&T Ocean Res­cue at the scene as this was go­ing on. “We’ve got a crane and pumps and we’re go­ing to lift it what we can. We have a diver down putting blad­ders un­der­neath. We’re go­ing to lift her what we can and pump her out and take her to the Bel­liveau slip. We’ll be here un­til we get her done. It will be well into the night.”

Hun­dreds of fish­er­men and com­mu­nity mem­bers filled the wharf helping with the re­cov­ery ef­fort, in­clud­ing the East Pub­nico Vol­un­teer Fire Depart­ment.

“It’s a big com­mu­nity ef­fort,” said Mal­one.

By the next morn­ing, The Ex­treme One was high and dry on the slip at R. Bel­liveau Ship­yard in Lower East Pub­nico, and scores of fish­er­men had gath­ered in West Pub­nico to be­gin gear­ing up new lines for Surette’s lob­ster traps at ‘the old liquor store’ to re­place the lines sal­vaged from the boat, which were a tan­gled mess.

Once that chore was done, the work party moved back to the East Side wharf to fin­ish rig­ging up the gear. All the traps were saved.

The lob­ster fish­ery in south­west­ern be­gan on Satur­day, Dec. 1. Dump­ing day was de­layed all week due to the weather.

Af­ter his boat sank, Surette was able to find an­other boat to use to start the lob­ster sea­son within about an hour to an hour-and-a-half with the help of Robert Ami­rault of Pub­nico.

“He found me a boat out of Wedge­port to run,” said Surette, who re­ceived nu­mer­ous of­fers of help and mes­sages of con­cern in the af­ter­math.

“It re­ally gives you a good feel­ing and makes a per­son thank­ful to live in such a giv­ing com­mu­nity that helps one an­other,” he said. “I just thank the Lord above no one got hurt.”

KATHY JOHNSON PHOTO

Fish­er­men work to get the gear off the fish­ing ves­sel, The Ex­treme One, which sank at the Lower East Pub­nico wharf on Wed­nes­day, Nov. 28, af­ter an ex­haust mal­func­tion.

KATHY JOHNSON PHOTO

Fish­er­men haul back rope from the sunken ves­sel at the Lower East Pub­nico wharf on Nov. 28, af­ter the ves­sel sank dur­ing the late af­ter­noon.

KATHY JOHNSON PHOTO

Many fish­er­men turned out on Nov. 29 to help gear up new lines to re­place the tan­gled mass of rope that was left af­ter sal­vaging lob­ster gear from The Ex­treme One, which sank at the Lower East Pub­nico wharf on Nov. 28 af­ter an ex­haust mal­func­tion.

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