Updated Aug. 8
On Friday, the Tomahawk, a charter fishing vessel out of Menemsha, collided with the Gloria Jean, a Fairhaven fishing vessel. The U.S. Coast Guard deployed a Jayhawk helicopter from Air Station Cape Cod and surface vessels from Station Menemsha to assist the vessels. The Chilmark harbormaster’s department also responded. Petty Officer Briana Carter, a Coast Guard spokesperson, told The Times both vessels were brought back into port, with “no flooding on either vessel.” Carter also said no injuries were reported. “Don’t know if any charges will or will not be made,” she said.
Friday afternoon, at the West Basin in Aquinnah, where the Tomahawk was towed, a huge gash could be seen in the boat’s bow. Buddy Vanderhoop, captain of the Tomahawk, told The Times the crash occurred near an area known as Dogfish Bar. Vanderhoop said the bow was up at the time of the accident and he was talking to a client, and thus is unsure what happened and why the other vessel was so close to Dogfish Bar.
His boat was brought to West Basin by TowBoatUS. Vanderhoop confirmed there were no injuries.
The Gloria Jean was tied up at the commercial wharf across the channel from the Tomahawk. The U.S. Coast Guard had escorted Gloria Jean into Menemsha, Petty Officer Carter noted. The vessel had impact damage to its starboard bow. A plywood patch had been affixed to the damaged area, which was subsequently caulked by a man in a dinghy. Chilmark harbormaster Ryan Rossi said one of his department’s boats was slated to escort the Gloria Jean to Quicks Hole, where a City of New Bedford vessel was expected to rendezvous with it and escort it the rest of the way. Rossi said he was surprised nobody got injured in the collision. At 3:15 pm Friday, the Gloria Jean passed through the Menemsha Jetties, with the Chilmark harbor department boat motoring after it.
On Monday, Shelley Edmundson, executive director of the Martha’s Vineyard Fishermen’s Preservation Trust, told The Times that Tim Power, captain of the Gloria Jean, is an important fluke provider to the Vineyard.
“He’s our supplier of fluke, and basically the main supplier of fluke to the Island,’ Edmundson said. Martha’s Vineyard Fishermen’s Preservation Trust runs the Martha’s Vineyard Seafood Collaborative in Menemsha, where Power sells fluke.
“I feel just relieved that everybody is OK,” Edmundson said of the collision. Edmundson said it’s unclear how long Power’s vessel will be down, but it could be a while, based on the amount of damage. “We’re trying to figure out what we can do as a nonprofit to help Tim,” Edmundson said.
Another buyer of Power’s fluke catches is the Fish House in Edgartown. In an email blast seeking recovery donations for Power, the Fish House alleges the Tomahawk crashed into the Gloria Jean “going full speed.” The Fish House stated, “Tim will be out of commission for quite some time, best case [until] mid-September, worst case this season is over. There is still 70 percent of the fluke quota left, and Tim will be forced to miss out on a vast majority of his income, while also having to navigate what to do about his boat that suffered immense damage.”
The Fish House stated it will match up to $5,000 in donations to help get Power and his vessel back fishing.
Another crowdfunding effort, one through a GoFundMe campaign by Capt. Scott McDowell, raised $11,705 out of a goal of $25,000 as of 9:30 am Wednesday. At the time the campaign was 18 hours old.
“Another boat crashed into FV Gloria Jean, going full speed while off the Vineyard,” the GoFundMe webpage states. “Luckily nobody on either boat was seriously injured! Tim had the ‘right of way,’ as he was in the act of fishing.” The page goes on to say, “Tim is one of the few remaining small draggers that still fish the Vineyard Sound and surrounding waters.”
The Gloria Jean unsuccessfully tried to hail the Tomahawk prior to the collision, the Vineyard Gazette reported. The Gazette, citing information provided by Petty Officer Justus Christopher of Station Menemsha, reported the Gloria Jean had a fishing net deployed, and therefore wasn’t in a state to dodge the Tomahawk. The Tomahawk could have avoided colliding with the Gloria Jean if somebody had been standing lookout, the Gazette reported Christopher as saying. “The biggest thing is to always stand lookout,” the Gazette quoted Christopher as stating. The Gazette reported the Tomahawk took approximately $45,000 of damage and the Gloria Jean about $30,000 of damage.
Monday morning, the Coast Guard’s District 1 public affairs office declined to verify if the Gloria Jean was fishing at the time of the collision, and also declined to verify whether or not both vessels were underway at the time.
Monday afternoon, Lt. Brandon Newman of District 1 public affairs confirmed the statements made in the Gazette were made by a Station Menemsha crew member. “However, an investigation is being conducted by our investigations division in conjunction with the commercial fishing vessel safety examiner at Sector Southeastern New England,” Lt. Newman wrote. “The details of the investigation are not releasable until the investigation is complete.”
The location of the collision was in a popular fishing area, according to a Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries webpage.
“Dogfish Bar, at the west end of Martha’s Vineyard in Aquinnah, is a famed shore fishing location,” the webpage states. “The Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) bought the location in 1996. Dogfish Bar is known for unparalleled spring striped bass fishing and riveting fall false albacore fishing. Catches of bluefish, bonito, and Spanish mackerel are common here as well.”