Crews haul a capsized sailboat up the launch ramp at Seal Cove. PHOTO COURTESY OF TVFD

Firefighters save capsized sailor

MOUNT DESERT — Quick action by volunteer firefighters may have saved the life of a Trenton man whose small sailboat capsized Friday about a half mile offshore of Bartlett’s Landing.

Mount Desert firefighters received a report around 6 p.m. that a person was clinging to the overturned hull of sailboat in the water between the landing on the west side of Mount Desert Island and Bartlett’s Island. Firefighters requested assistance from the Tremont Volunteer Fire Department, whose members were first on the scene.

A small group of Tremont firefighters were able to race out to the sailboat in an 18-foot open boat owned by a local fisherman. They arrived to find the sailor, who was wearing a life jacket, clinging to the hull of his 15-foot centerboard sloop.

“He was pretty tired,” said Tremont Chief Keith Higgins.

Concerned about hypothermia, the firefighters got the man out of his wet clothes and kept him warm. Back at Bartlett’s Landing, members of the Northeast Harbor Ambulance Service examined him and cleared him medically, Higgins said.

According to Higgins, the sailor, whose name he did not know, set sail earlier in the day from Seal Cove in Tremont. It is believed he called for help on a handheld VHF radio after failing to right the boat.

“He tried to right it himself but became fatigued,” Higgins said.

The sailboat later was towed to shore and righted. The owner was able to put the boat back on its trailer in Seal Cove and drive home, Higgins said.

Tremont and Mount Desert fire departments both have small rescue boats. Due to the quick access to the fisherman’s boat, these boats were not used.

The fire departments were assisted by the U.S. Coast Guard, which sent a high-speed boat from Southwest Harbor, Higgins said.


Mark Good

Mark Good

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Mark Good

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