A sailboat that sank in Southwest Harbor in a storm the last weekend of October is brought to the surface with the help of Wid Minctons and his barge. Tremont Harbormaster Justin Seavey dove to the boat to salvage it. PHOTO COURTESY OF WID MINCTONS

Storms damage boats, equipment

TREMONT — Harbormaster Justin Seavey hasn’t had much time to breathe, let alone relax, in the last two weekends of high winds, higher waves and lots of rain causing mayhem in Bass Harbor, Bernard and Seal Cove.

“All kinds of crazy, exciting stuff,” Seavey said about the last two stormy weekends. “I’ve been super busy, one thing after another.”

Several areas of the island experienced power outages from downed trees on land when winds reached 45 mph over the last weekend of October and 66 mph the first weekend in November. Those wind speeds were reported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), according to Seavey.

While rescue crews chopped fallen trees to clear roads, Seavey turned to bailing out boats, watching the town’s floats become submerged under high waves and diving to salvage a sunken sailboat in Southwest Harbor.

“I couldn’t believe the floats made it,” he said.

He watched them from the shore at 10 p.m. on Saturday night. “There’s nothing you can do in that type of weather.”

When the rains and wind swept through the weekend before Halloween, Seavey had to jump aboard a nearly sunken boat and was able to rescue it using a gas-powered pump.

“It was taking waves over the bow,” he said of the approximately 35-foot commercial boat. “There was water on the deck… and completely submerged the motor.”

That boat was hauled out from the water the next day to have its engine repaired, he said.

Tremont Harbormaster Justin Seavey on the docks in the rain Tuesday. ISLANDER PHOTO BY SARAH HINCKLEY

Part of averting disaster in these situations is keeping key people informed, Seavey explained. Not only is he constantly contacting boat owners, but also the U.S. Coast Guard, Marine Patrol and the Department of Environmental Protection.

“Anytime a boat sinks, there’s possible contamination,” Seavey explained, even those that sink three-quarters of the way. “That’s why I’m always on the phone.”

A few boats broke away from their moorings in the harbors and had to be tied back up. One barge, moored in Seal Cove waters, dragged its mooring 200 feet through the water, he said.

When a sunken sailboat was reported in Southwest Harbor, Seavey was called in to assist.

“I had to dive on that in zero visibility,” he said about salvaging what he guesses was a completely submerged 25-foot sailboat. “It was like two hours of dive time.”

Prior to coming to work for the town of Tremont, Seavey spent seven years in the Coast Guard. He carries an arsenal of equipment in preparation of any impending disasters: he always has an inflatable life vest on hand, a battery booster pack, fuel-powered water pump, extra gasoline and various plugs and patches for vessels.

He also calls upon a few key people when he needs help on the water, particularly his brother-in-law and a couple of members of the board of selectmen.

“They’re always willing to help,” he said.

On Monday, Seavey reported things had calmed down for the most part.

“Things are busy on the water with people hauling traps,” he said, “but not with responding [to emergencies].”

Sarah Hinckley

Sarah Hinckley

Former Islander reporter Sarah Hinckley covered the towns of Southwest Harbor, Tremont and neighboring islands.

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