TREMONT — Seal Cove fisherman Jordan “Jordie” Hodgdon was cold, wet and sitting on the bow of his capsized boat in Blue Hill Bay last week when rescuers arrived to pull him to safety minutes before the boat sank in nearly 200 feet of water.
Hodgdon was fishing in a 23-foot open boat between Hardwood and Moose islands on the morning of Sept. 28 when the propeller on the outboard motor became entangled with rope, according to Chief Keith Higgins of the Tremont Volunteer Fire Department.
“Before he could get it cleared, the boat started taking on water and overturned,” Higgins said.
Ethan Burne was working at shorefront property off the Cape Road when he heard cries for help and spotted Hodgdon atop the boat. Burne called the Southwest Harbor Police Department at 11:30 a.m., setting off a response that probably saved Hodgdon’s life.
Tremont firefighters, the Southwest Harbor-Tremont Ambulance Service and the U.S. Coast Guard responded, the latter in a 47-foot lifeboat. Higgins first called several fishermen who fished in the area. He reached Colton Sanborn, who is friends with Hodgdon.
Sanborn had just returned to Bass Harbor in his boat Mama Tried. He raced to the scene, with Tremont Harbormaster Justin Seavey behind in the town’s boat.
Meanwhile, Higgins drove to a Cape Road shorefront property owned by the Paine family. Eliot Paine told him his property manager Larry Albee and his helper, Gary Farley, had just taken the family’s 26-foot boat, Puffin, out to Hardwood Island, which the Paines own. Higgins called Albee.
Albee got the call at 12:09 p.m., he said this week.
“I was on the float tying up,” Albee recalled. “He said there’s a man on top of a boat. I ran up to the top of the dock, and I could see him there.”
Albee decided to get Farley, who was elsewhere on the island, before heading out toward Hodgdon’s boat.
“I’m glad I did because I really needed a second person,” Albee said, explaining that the conditions required someone to stay at the boat’s helm during the rescue. “It was quite rough and getting rougher all the time.”
Approaching the overturned boat, Albee was forced to motor into the wind. Once alongside, Farley pulled Hodgdon onboard Puffin.
“He was anxious to get on board,” Albee said. “He was very shaken, more shaken than I’ve seen a young man in a long time.”
Higgins and Paine watched the rescue from the shore. Sanborn, Seavey and the Coast Guard were approaching at high speed as Albee neared Hodgdon’s boat.
“They were really hauling,” Higgins said.
Hodgdon was transferred to Sanborn’s boat, where he was stripped of his wet clothes before heading in to the Seal Cove dock where the ambulance crew was waiting.
“They took his clothes off and put him into foul weather gear,” Higgins said.
Hodgdon was taken to Mount Desert Island Hospital in Bar Harbor and later released.
Hodgdon’s boat was not recovered.
“It sunk within eight minutes of getting him out,” Higgins said.
Albee said he and Farley had motored past the overturned boat on their way to Hardwood Island but didn’t see the vessel. They weren’t the only ones.
“Boats were out there; they just didn’t see him,” Albee said, adding the hull was green. “It blended in,” he said.
Updated on Oct. 4 at 1:15 p.m.