SALISBURY — Debris from a lobster boat that sank off the Isles of Shoals washed up on Salisbury Beach yesterday afternoon, prompting a search for more debris and the body of the vessel's missing captain.
Sav-A-Buck, a 44-foot lobster boat owned by Christopher Tobey of Kittery, Maine, capsized Sunday off the New Hampshire coast with Tobey's 16-year-old son and a 21-year-old crewman aboard. The son and crewman were rescued from Duck Island after spending the night there, but Tobey remains missing.
The search for Tobey continued last night, but Petty Officer 2nd Class Connie Terrell of the U.S. Coast Guard said she was unsure how long it would continue or how large of an area the Coast Guard was searching.
All three of the lobstermen aboard escaped from the boat after it capsized, Terrell said, but none was wearing a survival suit or a life jacket.
"They were able to escape from underneath the boat; all three of them did get from underneath the boat," she said. "According to the son, they were about 200 feet from rocks off Duck Island."
Terrell said that is the last they know about the whereabouts of Tobey.
The Sav-A-Buck was upside down on Duck Island, which is part of the Isles of Shoals, a cluster of small, rocky islands that are seven nautical miles southeast of Portsmouth, N.H.
About 1 p.m. yesterday, Kevin Henderson, of 61 Atlantic Ave., Salisbury, said he noticed some debris floating in the surf.
He said the debris included two life preservers, a buoy from a lobster trap and a four-man orange "round, oval" flotation device with netting and an emergency position indicating radio beacon — a device called an EPIRB the Coast Guard uses to track ships in distress.
Henderson said the life preservers were still packed "like no one tried to put them on." He also said the lobster trap buoy had a tag with Tobey's name and phone number on it. Henderson called the Coast Guard because he and neighbors had heard reports about the missing lobsterman.
Police Chief David L'Esperance said the Police and Fire departments searched the entire length of the beach at the request of the Coast Guard for at least a half hour, but did not find any more debris.
"We haven't found anything," he said.
Fire Chief Rick Souliotis, who was at the scene with L'Esperance, said they will continue to search throughout the week for more debris. Salisbury public safety officials searched the beach by foot, on an ATV, with a truck and with another small vehicle.
A strong and continuous wind pushed from the east yesterday afternoon as crews searched. The strong winds caused large waves off Salisbury Beach and difficult boating conditions.
Tobey's daughter called the Portsmouth Harbor Coast Guard station about 10 a.m. yesterday to report the boat had not returned on schedule. The crew left Sunday morning and were expected back at 5 p.m.
Coast Guard crews launched a 47-foot boat from Portsmouth and a Jayhawk helicopter from Cape Cod to search for Tobey.
Henderson, who bought his house in 2001 and has lived there year-round since 2005, said he'll continue to look for more of Save-a-Buck's debris.
"I'm just going to keep an eye out," he said.