Cleanup continues in aftermath of wreck

Debris from the wreck of the charter fishing vessel Tiger Shark is piled on shore near Thunder Hole in Acadia National Park awaiting removal. PHOTO COURTESY OF CAPT. WINSTON SHAW

Debris from the wreck of the charter fishing vessel Tiger Shark is piled on shore near Thunder Hole in Acadia National Park awaiting removal.

BAR HARBOR — Owner Stephen Pagels of Downeast Windjammer Cruises, the company operating the Tiger Shark charter fishing boat which sank near Thunder Hole off Acadia National Park last week, continues to oversee the salvage and cleanup from the wreck.

“It’s been a rough week,” he said Monday, “but I’m still standing.” Downeast Windjammer Cruises also owns and operates the schooner Margaret Todd, the Cranberry Cove ferry and the Bar Harbor-Winter Harbor ferry. Tiger Shark began taking on water fast when a hull plank apparently came loose during a transit from Bar Harbor to Southwest Harbor. The vessel was heading to a marina to be hauled out for the winter.

Pagels had high praise for the U.S. Coast Guard and Maine Department of Environmental Protection officials involved in the response. In the hours following Captain Dan Lunt’s distress call Tuesday, Coast Guard responders deemed it unsafe to try and tow the boat away from the rocks. Instead, batteries and diesel fuel were removed, and later the entire engine.

DEP remediation and waste management specialist Darian Higgins was one of the first on the scene. “I have to give him a huge amount of credit,” Pagels said. “I worked with him about where the tanks were on the boat. He was the go-to person.”

After the high-priority job of removing materials that could spill or leak into the water was complete, the wreck of the vessel remained tied to the rocks. The passenger cabin collapsed and hull planks broke off and washed away in the surf.

“Some of the wreckage scattered to Sand Beach,” Pagels said. “We had some of our crew down there, and that’s been taken care of.”

Diver Ed Monat and his wife Edna also helped collect debris. “The wreck site will be next.”

Pagels’ company bought Tiger Shark about eight years ago in Hyannisport, Mass. It was built by a small custom boat yard in Cape May, N.J., in the 1950s. “It was built as a party fishing vessel,” he said. “A previous owner had documented it as a research vessel,” but it was always primarily used for fishing trips.

The Coast Guard requires hull inspections for passenger vessels carrying more than six passengers every two years. Tiger Shark’s last regular hull inspection was in 2012, Pagels said, but he had the boat hauled out a few weeks ago for an extra check because he was concerned about a few spots. He consulted with the Coast Guard on the project.

“Whenever you pull an inspected vessel out, you’re going to do anything you need to,” he said.

The boat was planked with yellow pine running fore and aft. Some of the butt joints where planks met were showing wear, Pagels said, but “we never pulled a bad fastener out of the boat.” His crew replaced several planks a few years ago. There were several through-hull fittings intended to be water intakes. “We were not using them,” Pagels said, “and the inspector had said it would be nice to do away with them.”

The Coast Guard investigation into the cause of the incident continues. Pagels said he has not decided whether to use another one of the company’s boats for fishing trips next season.

“We’re just going to assess what our options are,” he said.

Liz Graves

Liz Graves

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Former Islander reporter and editor Liz Graves grew up in California and came to Maine as a schooner sailor.

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