Tribe boat assists in rescue of out-of-gas boater

Up-Island emergency responders including police, ambulance, Wampanoag tribe (WTGH) rangers and Coast Guard personnel scrambled late on the morning of May 18 following a report of a “boater in distress” off Lobsterville Beach in Aquinnah.

Police officer Ryan Natichioni first spotted a man waving his arms and sounding an air horn at 11:36 am, about a quarter-mile off the beach.The operator, identified by police as William Solon, also ignited a handheld red emergency flare.

“Within minutes, both the Coast Guard and the WTGH rangers had contacted the vessel in distress,” officer Natichioni wrote in his report. “Coast Guard advised all responding units that there was in fact no ER (emergency), the vessel has simply run out of fuel.”

The rangers towed the boater into Menemsha Harbor. “We are very grateful that the tribe provides this type of cooperation,” Aquinnah police Chief Randhi Belain told The Times. “The rescue boat is a great piece of equipment to have available.”

Coast Guard Station Menemsha Chief Jason Olsen said Mr. Solon had no VHF radio nor any other means of effective communication.

Chief Olsen reminded boaters to be properly equipped before heading out on the water. He said Saturday, the Coast Guard Auxiliary will provide courtesy inspections and speak to boaters about safety from 9 am to 1 pm, at Oak Bluffs Harbor.