Speaking from the comfort of his home on Tuesday, happy to be safe, Charles Sprissler of Newton Corner described how a pleasant day in the boat of his friend, John Mooar of Framingham, turned into a harrowing ordeal.
Mr. Mooar and Mr. Sprissler left Falmouth Harbor planning to fish off the Vineyard and spend some time on the beach. Mr. Sprissler said he and his friend found a school of bluefish off south beach just around the corner from Wasque Rip in a section past what is commonly known as Metcalf's Hole.
Mr. Sprissler had fished the beach in the past using a four-wheel drive but never by boat. The men decided to try and bring the boat close to the shore and unload a cooler and some gear then back the boat a short distance off the beach.
"We wanted to stay by the blues," said Mr. Sprissler.
Not a wise idea given the strong current and surf conditions that day.
It was shortly after 9 am. The men moved the boat in toward shore and put out anchors off the bow and stern thinking that would stabilize the boat.
The anchors did not hold and waves began to pummel the boat, eventually swamping it.
"We didn't know there was so much of a rip tide," said Mr. Sprissler. "We had never tried this before, but the fishing was real good." He added, "Amateurs should not try this."
The boat was now in the breaking surf. The men jumped on to the shore and struggled to push the boat off the beach assisted by "four good Samaritans," according to Mr. Sprissler.
Mr. Sprissler said he called 911. Asked why he did not call the Coast Guard or Edgartown Harbor master on a marine radio, he said that at the moment he and his friend did not know what to do.
The initial alert from the communication center placed the boat on property owned by The Trustees of Reservations (TTOR). Dave Belcher, TTOR Chappaquiddick superintendent, and several beach rangers, including Ron Kasmouski, responded to the call. Although the boat was in fact farther down the beach from Wasque on a section of beach managed by Dukes County, the TTOR rangers offered assistance.
Mr. Belcher said it was his understanding that one of the anchor lines had become fouled in the prop. The next thing the men knew they were in the surf.
By now the waves were splintering the side of the boat. After almost three hours, the rangers used a tow truck that had been called and a TTOR truck equipped with a winch to bring the boat, heavy with sand and water, up on the beach.
"The poor guys; all they had on were shoes and swim trunks," said Mr. Kasmouski.
Mr. Belcher said that fortunately no oil or gas spilled. The mangled boat was dragged up the beach to a parking area and later removed to a local garage.
"What is left of the boat is at Jerry Jeffers's garage," said Mr. Belcher. "They will not be doing that again, not in that boat - that's for sure."
Nursing a pair of broken ribs sustained when he tried to push the boat back off the beach, Mr. Sissler had praise for the people who came to his assistance. "The response was excellent," he said. "Ron [Kasmouski] took us to Chappy and some nice people gave us a ride."
The TTOR ranger brought the men, who were left with nothing but their bathing suits, to Edgartown to catch the Pied Piper ferry back to Falmouth, which did not arrive for three hours. Learning of their plight an unidentified man took the men to the Steamship terminal in Oak Bluffs and provided them with tickets to catch the next boat.
'I just want to thank all the people who helped us," said Mr. Sprissler. "They were great."
Mr. Sprissler is a landscaper. Mr. Mooar is a plumber.
"This was our first day we took off all year. We are just a couple of hard-working guys who just wanted to have a good day off," he said. "It just didn't work out that way."