“They knew what to do and they saved their lives”
July 10—Seven fishermen returned safely to Gloucester after their fishing boat sank about 92 miles east of Gloucester.
The crew of the trawler Grace Marie were rescued by good Samaritan gillnet Dawn T. after their boat began to take on water on Friday evening.
The Grace Marie issued a distress message around 10 p.m. saying the boat was experiencing rapid flooding, according to Coast Guard Petty Officer Ryan Noel. The Coast Guard broadcast an urgent maritime information broadcast, asking all nearby vessels to respond to Mayday from the Grace Marie.
The Dawn T responded to the call, according to the Coast Guard, and was able to bring all seven crew members on board and back home.
No injuries were reported, Noel said. The crew returned to Gloucester around 1 p.m. on Saturday, he said.
Noel said on Sunday that an overflight of the area Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon by an HC-144 Ocean Sentry fixed-wing aircraft showed the Grace Marie submerged and releasing a splinter about 100 meters long. The Coast Guard was broadcasting an alert about the vessel’s location to warn other sailors.
Angela Sanfilippo, president of the Gloucester Fishermen‘s Wives Association and executive director of the Massachusetts Fishermen’s Partnership, said she was contacted on Saturday morning by the new commanding officer of Gloucester Coast Guard Station, James Bridges, who informed her of what happened and that the crew “did everything right,” Sanfilippo said, including donning immersion suits and deploying a life raft.
“They knew what to do and they saved their lives,” Sanfilippo said.
He was told the Coast Guard escorted the Dawn T to Jodrey State Fish Pier on Saturday, but was unable to meet the vessel. She said she had spoken with a member of the owners’ family and the crew were fine but “completely shaken”. She said the loss of the Grace Marie is a loss for the fishing community.
“We hope they settle down and buy another boat,” she said. There were seven people on board and that means seven families are out of work.
“It’s going to be a loss,” she said.
Sanfilippo said Grace Marie captain and co-owner Sebastian “Busty” Noto and his son were both on board, but she said Sunday she had not spoken with the captain. She said she wanted to “give them space and time to recover”.
The boat’s co-owner, Stephanie Noto, declined to comment at her home in Riverdale.
The sinking comes two weeks after St. Peter’s Day, which honors the patron saint of fishermen, during which this year the fishing fleet was blessed in a ceremony at the Fishermen’s Memorial on Stacy Boulevard.
“The city would have been in a terrible state if these men had disappeared,” Sanfilippo said. She said one of the crew had taken one of the twice-yearly safety trainings offered by the Fishermen’s Partnership.
“It’s the most dangerous job in the world,” she said of commercial fishing.
The Grace Marie is a steel-hulled trawler built in 1978 in Wakefield, Rhode Island, by Rhode Island Marine, according to various websites, including Balticshipping.com. The ship, with a gross tonnage of 117 tons, was called Paul & Domenic until 1997.
The vessel was considered one of Gloucester’s high line fishing vessels, denoting a vessel capable of a large catch.
In January 2011, a crew member aboard the Grace Marie was airlifted from the ship 10 miles north of Provincetown by a Coast Guard helicopter after sustaining an arm injury in an onboard accident.
In June 2010, the fishing vessel suffered engine failure while on a fishing trip to Georges Bank and had to be towed to Cape Cod by the Coast Guard cutter Escanaba. The ship had lost power 150 miles east of Nantucket, but the ship, captain and four crew members returned safely.
Andrea Holbrook contributed to this story through Ethan Forman, who can be reached at 978-675-2714 or [email protected] Follow Forman on Twitter at @FormanNews.