With the sea still raging from the coastal storm that hammered the East Coast this week, a crew from Coast Guard Station Brant Point on Tuesday rescued a disabled lobster boat southwest of Nantucket amid 15 foot waves and dangerous shoals.
The call came in around 9:30 a.m. The 65-foot vessel Two Dukes had lost all steering and was adrift in the waters southwest of Nantucket, near Tuckernuck Island, with four crew members and one dog on board. To make matters worse, the captain was injured after a window got blown out in the heavy seas, leaving him with lacerations on his face.
A four-man crew from Station Brant Point suited up and set out to take part in the rescue aboard the 47-foot motor life boat. After the long transit to the waters southwest of the island, the crew located the disabled fishing vessel as a Coast Guard helicopter hoisted two people off the boat, leaving behind the captain and one other crewman.
"With the boat being dead in the water and caught between multiple shoals it was the largest sea state I have seen in my four years here and definitely the most aggressive I have ever been in being a newly certified heavy weather coxswain," said Station Brant Point's boatswain's mate (BM2) Chad Austin. "My crew made it extremely easy for me as the boat driver. We trusted our training and everything ended up working out as smoothly as possible."
With Austin on the rescue mission were Station Brant Point's machinery technician (MK2) Garrett Almstrom, seaman (SN) Alan Michonski, and fireman (FN) Zach Rissman. After securing a line to the Two Dukes, the crew from Station Brant Point then began towing the larger 65-foot fishing vessel north toward Martha's Vineyard. They towed the boat past Cape Poge, the northeast point of the Vineyard, before transferring the operation to another Coast Guard crew from Station Woods Hole.
Station Brant Point master chief Lance Wiser praised his crew for completing the rescue in challenging conditions, noting that they had just trained in the heavy surf the previous day when waves were even larger amid 60 mph wind gusts.
There were "still rough conditions on the south side of the island. We went out in the worst of the storm yesterday for training, preparing for cases like this," Wiser said. "I couldn't be more proud of this crew. First heavy weather SAR case of the winter season. Fifteen to 20-foot seas, shoals all over. The fisherman were extremely grateful."
Nantucket Harbormaster Sheila Lucey, the former senior chief at Station Brant Point, was keeping tabs on the rescue operation from the island, and also offered her praise for the crew's performance considering the conditions at sea.
"Absolutely heroic," Lucey said of the rescue. "The conditions were horrendous and they performed flawlessly…We haven’t had a case like that in years. The training under current leadership at the station has paid off. They are out there every single time the weather gets rough and the crew they rescued were the beneficiaries of their hard work and dedication. We are so lucky to have them all and the people on the water around Nantucket should be grateful for them."