, Newburyport, MA

Local News

August 3, 2011

Calm waters so far for local boaters

The seas have been kind to boaters this season

NEWBURYPORT — Midway through the summer boating season, it's been relatively smooth sailing out on local waters.

In contrast to the past couple of years when seasons were marked by the drowning of a 20-year-old Lynn woman at the mouth of the Merrimack River at Plum Island and the disappearance of captain Seth Coellner after his boat crashed into the jetties, local water patrollers say this year thus far has been devoid of real tragedy.

But it hasn't been without its occasional mishap.

On Saturday, a fun day of sailing turned sour for one family when they strayed from the channel and ended up capsizing at Badgers Rock off Salisbury.

Harbormaster Paul Hogg's office received a distress call about 3:30 p.m. Saturday from five adults aboard a 28-foot sailboat who reported they were unable to dislodge themselves from the rocky outcropping.

Assistant harbormaster Lance Thokel along with a crew from the U.S. Coast Guard Merrimack River Station responded to the scene. The adults were transported safely from their damaged boat with no injuries reported, Hogg said.

"They ended up hitting the rocks," Hogg said. "They came out of the channel and didn't come around the navigational buoy like they were supposed to. I don't know if they just didn't know or didn't see it."

Towboat US owner and operator Michael Goodridge reported the owners of the sailboat retrieved their vessel some time later, when the tides came in, and the sailboat was in good enough condition that they were able to guide it into port without assistance.

Goodridge said it seems that every year a handful of boaters fall victim to some of the perils in the pass, and this year has been no exception.

"We've been pretty busy this year," he said. "A lot of typical work right now — nothing real big, but we've had a couple of sinkings."

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