Shark fishermen rescue four from flooded boat off South Shore
Four fishermen, participants in the Oak Bluffs Monster Shark Tournament, set out in heavy seas and high winds Friday morning, in a 29-foot Luhrs center console. A short while later, the Blue Jacket shipped a big wave over the bow, and the fishermen found themselves under water, five miles south of Martha's Vineyard.
The Coast Guard received a report from Blue Jacket at around 7:36 am Friday, reporting that they were taking on water five miles south of the Island, according to a Coast Guard First District press release.
Coast Guard Station Menemsha launched its 47-foot motor lifeboat. But as the rugged vessel got underway for what would have been a rough trip around Gay Head, the Coast Guard learned that Sophia, a 38-foot Pearson, run by a 19-year-old house painter from Centerville, who was also a tournament competitor, had rescued the four men.
The 23rd annual Oak Bluffs Monster Shark Tournament is a two-day affair based in Oak Bluffs Harbor. It annually attracts hundreds of fishermen lured by the excitement of big game fishing for sharks, and rich prizes.
Much of the fishing is done well south of the Vineyard. On the eve of the tournament a storm blew up the coast and assaulted the Vineyard just after midnight, creating treacherous boating conditions Friday, the first day of the tournament.
Winds gusted above 20 miles per hour and waves crested to near 10 feet, according to the Martha's Vineyard Coastal Observatory, which stands one mile off South Beach.
The Buzzards Bay weather station recorded gusts to 41 miles-per-hour out of the east-southeast. And the Nantucket buoy, 54 nautical miles southeast of Nantucket, recorded wave heights reaching close to 16-feet.
The Blue Jacket departed Oak Bluffs Harbor at 6 am Friday morning bound south of the Vineyard through Muskeget Channel, the passage between Nantucket and Chappaquiddick. The channel is lined with treacherous, shifting shoals and beset by strong currents that, combined with a strong southerly wind, can build steep, dangerous waves.
The exact location of the Blue Jacket's foundering is not clear. She struck a wave that broke the windshield and swamped the boat, according to the Coast Guard report. The captain headed for the nearest point of land, and another wave came across the vessel's stern and the 29-footer began to sink.