Updated @ 2:45
The Vineyard fishing vessel Miss Jenna ran aground on Lobsterville Beach at 11:30 pm, according to the U.S Coast Guard. At 12:30 am the vessel was still stuck in the sand about 20 feet from shore. U.S. Coast Guard personnel could be seen on deck and boats flashing emergency lights could be seen in the distance.
Capt. Andrew Wheeler, who runs the Miss Jenna, told The Times Friday morning sleep deprivation was a factor.
“Basically we ran a long trip and fell asleep,” he said.
He did not specify who was at the helm. “Pretty embarrassing to be honest with you,” he said.
The Miss Jenna was not on the sand for long, he said, and was undamaged.
He did not mention any injuries.
In August, a similar occurrence on Naushon damaged the vessel and sent it to Fairhaven for repairs.
Petty Officer Briana Carter said sleep appeared to be a factor. The cutter Sanibel first noticed the Miss Jenna’s situation, she said.
Senior Chief Justin Longval, Officer in Charge of Station Menemsha, painted a more serious picture Friday morning.
Chief Longval said the Sanibel was at anchor when the Miss Jenna allegedly cruised by the vessel closely and allegedly didn’t respond to multiple hails from the Sanibel. Station Menemsha was notified of the incident and that the vessel was steaming toward a beach.
Station Menemsha deployed a 24-foot boat to investigate. When the Coast Guard arrived, they allegedly found the Miss Jenna in the sand still in gear.
“When my crew got alongside the boat, they had to make a lot of noise, talk over the loud hailer, in order to get their attention,” Longval said. “They were still sleeping.”
Initially, his crew feared the worst for those inside the Miss Jenna, he said.
Once the scope of the problem became apparent, Station Menemsha dispatched a 47-foot motor lifeboat to join the 24- footer. The 24-footer then ferried a boarding crew from the USCGC Sanibel to the Miss Jenna, Longval said. Some Station Menemsha crew members joined the boarding party.
Aquinnah Police came on scene to assist, Longval said.
The 47-foot motor lifeboat towed the Miss Jenna off the beach then took the fishing boat on the hip and motored it into Menemsha Harbor where Chilmark Police were waiting.
According to a police report by Sgt. Sean Slavin, Chilmark police met the Coast Guard at Menemsha at 1:45 am with Wheeler and a crew member on board. A Coast Guard crew member told police there were two empty 18 packs of Bud Light and numerous “nip” bottles on board the vessel and a faint odor of “burnt marijuana,” the police report states.
Wheeler initially told police he had not been drinking, but later said he had “one beer with lunch” after a portable breath test found his blood alcohol level to be at .04. He was also given field sobriety tests, which he mostly performed satisfactorily, according to the report.
The time of the breath test was two hours and 40 minutes after he was the Miss Jenna was initially observed by the Coast Guard, the report states. “I advised Wheeler he was under the legal threshold for BAC for operating a boat,” Slavin wrote. “I did ask Wheeler, ‘I thought you said you hadn’t drank today.’ Wheeler stated, ‘I had a beer with lunch,’ it should be noted the time was [2:22 am].”
A crew member was also given field sobriety tests, which he passed, and a breath test that showed no level of intoxication, according to the report.
No criminal charges were filed by police.
Longval said the captain was “cited for numerous violations” though he declined to name them or elaborate on them.
“We appreciate the support and coordination that was provided by the Aquinnah Police Department and the Chilmark Police Department,” he said.
Updated after breaking the story at 7:30 am – ed.