The fishing vessel Miss Jenna, a Vineyard crab and whelk boat, has been banned from the Menemsha Basin by the Chilmark harbor department. Harbormaster Ryan Rossi said he made the decision following the grounding of the vessel Thursday night in Aquinnah. Rossi said alcohol appeared to be a factor in the grounding, and taken together with two other incidents since last May, constitute a pattern of nautical behavior “proven to be reckless.”
Rossi said not only is the Miss Jenna banned, but Capt. Andrew Wheeler’s right to operate any vessel in the Menemsha Basin has been revoked.
The Miss Jenna was allegedly found to still be in gear when the Coast Guard found it in the shallows of Lobsterville Beach Thursday night. According to a Chilmark Police report, the Coast Guard also found “two empty 18-packs of Bud Light and numerous ‘nip’ bottles” on board. Wheeler told The Times, “We fell asleep.”
Chilmark Police met the Miss Jenna in Menemsha after it was taken dockside by a Coast Guard motor lifeboat. Chilmark Police, upon questioning and field sobriety tests, which were largely passed, did not charge Wheeler or his mate with anything. Wheeler registered a .04 on a breath test for alcohol, which is the lowest level for operating a commercial vessel under U.S. Coast Guard regulations. Rossi said his observation of that test, and the knowledge that the test was taken roughly two hours and 40 minutes after the Coast Guard came on the scene in Aquinnah, informed his decision to revoke Capt. Wheeler’s maritime privileges in Menemsha.
Rossi said the Capt. Wheeler “was clearly intoxicated when trying to come into Menemsha.”
As the Coast Guard found, Capt. Wheeler didn’t make port in Menemsha.
Senior Chief Justin Longval, Station Menemsha officer in charge, said his crew was forced to resort to a loud hailer to rouse the captain and his mate from their slumber.
The Miss Jenna ran aground on Naushon in August. Rossi said this occurred at some point after it departed Menemsha. The vessel also crashed into the West Dock last May, breaking a pressure-treated piling.
“The selectmen support the harbormaster in the best interest of safety for all concerned,” Chilmark selectman Jim Malkin, the board’s harbor liaison, said of Rossi’s actions in the matter.