On Friday, Tisbury received its new harbor patrol boat from Eastern Boats of Milton, N.H. The delivery comes two years and eight months after the previous harbor patrol boat, Rock Salt, sank at the Owen Park Dock on Oct. 3, 2019.
An investigator for the insurer blamed the sinking on a loose deck hatch. The town used the insurance money it received after the sinking, $255,000, to purchase the new harbor patrol boat, which, unlike its metal predecessor, is fiberglass.
Rock Salt was funded through a grant from FEMA. Because of this, Tisbury had limited options with the insurance money beyond building or buying a vessel of similar function, or giving money back to the federal government. The cost of the boat, which has security and firefighting features as Rock Salt did, amounted to $234,000. A fire suppression system purchased through the Tisbury Fire Department also cost $19,819. Asked if he was pleased with the new boat, Tisbury harbormaster John Crocker said, “I haven’t spent that much time in it, obviously, but yeah.”
Crocker said a loaner boat from the Massachusetts Environmental Police that his department had used as an interim patrol vessel has been taken out of the water, and will be returned shortly.
As The Times previously reported, the fire suppression system onboard Rock Salt became infamous in Tisbury for complexity and dysfunction. However, Tisbury Fire Chief Greg Leland said the new system is far simpler. Chief Leland said the new system is essentially a larger version of a portable system used in the department’s fire skiff. Leland also said the fire department will maintain the system, and has budgeted accordingly.
Eastern Boats owner Greg Hopkins described Tisbury’s patrol boat as a 27-foot Defender series custom project. Hopkins’ company may be familiar to Vineyard anglers, as it supplies grand prize vessels to the Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby.
“That boat is very different than what we do,” Hopkins said. He also said boats such as the one Tisbury received “take a long time” to build.
Hopkins described the boat as “stick-built” and emphasized how much work went into handbuilding the cabin. Some special features, he noted, were a dive door and push bar. The push bar he compared to a tugboat nautical element. Hopkins said most of the boats they build are semi-custom, however, “that boat is truly a custom boat.”
Hopkins said of the boat overall, “That thing’s rock-solid.”
Asked what name he was going to give the boat, Crocker said, “I am not going to do that.” He said its name would be “patrol boat.”