Update 7/17 at 7:40 pm
Five people dove into the Atlantic to escape a boat fire 18 miles south of Nomans Land on Sunday. They were rescued by a nearby boat, the U.S. Coast Guard reported. A good Samaritan radioed to watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Southeastern at about 10 am, reporting the 32-foot recreational boat Finale out of Falmouth had caught fire, and he rescued the people who were aboard, according to a Coast Guard press release. A Station Menemsha 47-foot motor lifeboat crew launched in response. They arrived on scene and reported the five people to be in good health, and the Finale capsized.
The five people transferred to the Coast Guard boat, and were brought back to Woods Hole, where family was waiting to bring them home.
The charred shell of the Finale was towed just off Lake Tashmoo by Tow Boat US-Falmouth, where it was hauled onto the RM Packer Co. barge Innovator on the morning of July 17, Mark Brown of Tow Boat US told The Times. It was subsequently barged to the R.M. Packer Co. terminal and craned ashore.
The cause of the fire is not yet known.
The Finale is the most recent in a spate of boat fires in Vineyard and surrounding waters. The Governor caught fire on June 2 at the Steamship Authority terminal in Vineyard Haven; the Witch of Endor caught fire on June 6 at its mooring in Vineyard Haven Harbor; the Charlotte Anne caught fire on June 23 at a Lake Tashmoo pier; the Stinger and the Sundowner caught fire on July 5 while rafted together at anchor in Lagoon Pond (the remains of the Sundowner later reignited ashore on July 12 while awaiting inspection at the R.M. Packer Co. terminal) and the Best Revenge 5 caught fire on July 11 while docked in Falmouth Harbor.
Mr. Brown said he sees no connection between the fires, and described them as “all coincidental.” And added, enough is enough. “I’m tired of smelling burnt fiberglass,” he said.
“It may seem that we have had an unusual number of boat fires this summer, but
I don’t think we have,” Senior Chief Rob Riemer, officer in charge at Coast Guard Station Menemsha, wrote in an e-mail to The Times. “It’s all relative — when you have maybe one or two a year and then all of a sudden you have three or four, it seems like a lot. I will say that overall boating traffic seems to be increasing. You have a lot of people that maybe haven’t used their boats out on the water — boats that sit dormant on trailers, moorings, or on boat stands tend to develop problems. Wiring degrades, fuel goes bad, rubber hoses rot; these things cause problems. Proper servicing of boats that have been dormant is highly recommended; regular servicing of boats in operation is just good practice.
“Some accidents are hard to avoid; bad things sometimes happen. It is always a good idea to do everything you can to ensure your boat is seaworthy and avoid problems if possible.”
Senior Chief Riemer added that having a well-maintained fire extinguisher aboard can make the difference when a fire is in its early stages, as an extinguisher can snuff it out before it becomes uncontrollable.
Editor’s note: Updated with more details on the recovery of the Finale.