, Newburyport, MA

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October 20, 2012

Sailboat crew rescued off Plum Island

PLUM ISLAND -- A pair of sailboat crewmen were rescued last night when their boat went aground off Plum Island.

Steve Dombrowski of Dracut was fishing in the Parker River Wildlife Refuge at around 5:30 p.m. Friday night when he noticed a sailboat coming very close to the beach. The sea was rough, with waves of 5 to 7 feet in height, if not larger, he said.

"I knew it was just a matter of time before they hit the shore," he said.

The boat went aground off the beach at a remote spot between parking lots 1 and 2. But fortunately, Dombrowski is among the relatively few people who has federal permit to bring his four-wheel-drive vehicle onto the beach for overnight fishing and camping. He called for emergency help, and stayed with the two men, whom he said were in their 60s, until Newbury emergency workers arrived.

The crewmen were OK, Dombrowski said. They were taking the boat from Maine to Florida. Their names and addresses were not immediately available.

At the time of the accident, the tide was going out -- it was about three hours after high tide. The area when the accident occurred in known locally to have shallow sand shoals.

The men were transported off the beach by Dombrowski, who was still out at the beach this morning along with local tow boat services. As of 10 a.m., tow boat services were trying to determine how to pull the sailboat off the beach. The tide was low, and although it had not suffered any major damage, it had been pushed up the beach by the high surf. There was a heavy fog over the beach this morning, as high humidity and unseasonably warm temperatures hovered over the cooling ocean waters.

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