Boater tears gash in keel; boat sinks

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Mark Brown, of Tow Boat US, Falmouth, hauled a boat out of the water near Penzance Point on Tuesday. – Courtesy Tow Boat US/Falmouth

Updated July 27

A Marion boater sent out a mayday Tuesday afternoon in Woods Hole after striking Middle Ledge. 

The boater was westbound to Buzzards Bay, according to Tow Boat US, Falmouth, owner Mark Brown, who said he was first to respond after receiving the distress call. The 25-foot Nauset powerboat Grit and Grace had a five-foot tear in the keel, Brown said. Even though he was on scene within five minutes of the mayday, Brown said, the boater was in water well over his ankles due to the hull breach.

“We see people hit there all the time,” he said, he said of the ledge, which he described as roughly an eighth of a mile from the Steamship Authority terminal.

Brown said he put pumps on the boat immediately, but the water rushed in too quickly, and he was forced to bring the boater onto a tow vessel for safety. 

By 1:40 the boat had “turtled” and was going under, Brown said. Using lift bags, he was able to tow it close to Penzance Point, where the water was shallower, and eventually the boat could be refloated. 

The U.S. Coast Guard and the Barnstable County Sheriff’s Office also responded, he said. 

The incident occurred near Buoy 1, according to Coast Guard Petty Officer Amanda Wyrick, who said the Massachusetts Environmental Police and Sea Tow also responded. 

Wyrick said Sea Tow brought the boater ashore. 

The boat’s fuel port was plugged up, and there was no apparent release, Brown noted. The boater was “a little shaken up” but uninjured, he said. 

Updated to add more details.