Tribe shares new rescue boat with up-Island towns
In the photo below left, Chilmark harbormaster Dennis Jason and Bret Stearns, Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) Natural Resources department director, stand in a newly outfitted Hurricane rigid hull inflatable.
The tribe and the town of Chilmark recently approved an agreement under which the town will share the use of the boat.
The natural resources department acquired the boat through a federal surplus program from the US Coast Guard and outfitted it with a new Mercury Optimax engine, Raymarine electronics, and a searchlight to equip it for rescue and research operations.
The agreement stipulates that the vessel will be kept at the Harbormaster's dock in Menemsha. Mr. Jason will have the use of the vessel for harbor patrol, assisting boaters and rescue. In exchange, the town will contribute to maintenance and insurance costs.
Photo courtesy of Bret Stearns
Aquinnah harbormaster Brian Vanderhoop also has use of the vessel in the event of an emergency.
The natural resources department will use the inflatable for water quality monitoring, environmental research, and training, said Mr. Stearns. The department also has received Environmental Protection Agency funding to support an oil spill response training program with the Hurricane that will be made available to responders Island-wide, he said.
"The tribe and the Natural Resources Department have prepared this vessel specifically for the purpose of providing increased safety and environmental awareness in the community," said Mr. Stearns. "The vessel is in capable hands in Menemsha, and we are looking forward to building upon this relationship in the future."