At approximately 10 a.m. today, Jan. 28, the U.S. Coast Guard received a distress call from the fishing vessel Miss Lynne stating the engine compartment was on fire and the two people aboard needed help. The distressed vessel was approximately four miles south of Port Clyde when the fire broke out.
Watch standers in the command center at Coast Guard Sector Northern New England issued an urgent marine information broadcast requesting assistance from mariners, according to a news release from the U.S. Coast Guard station South Portland. A 29-foot response boat small launched from Coast Guard Station Rockland, and the 225-foot buoy tender Coast Guard Cutter Willow was diverted from operations nearby to assist.
The fishing vessel Bug Catcha, skippered by Gerry Cushman, overheard the distress call and was the first on-scene. The two men from the burning Miss Lynne had climbed into their survival suits and were recovered by the Bug Catcha crew.
Cushman said he had been monitoring Channel 80, which fishermen out of Port Clyde listen to while on the water. He was approximately two miles away, checking his own traps when he heard the call for help, and “fire” yelled over the airwaves.
He pushed Bug Catcha to 29 knots and got over to the Miss Lynn where that boat’s owner, John Hall, and his sternman, Karl Hoffman, were standing at the peak of the bow of the burning vessel.
Cushman pulled his vessel parallel alongside the Miss Lynne, and the two fishermen jumped aboard, helped by Cushman’s sternman, Brett Haining, of Warren. Also onboard was an observer from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Shortly afterwards, the Coast Guard ship and boat arrived on scene.
Both fishermen were transported to their homeport of Port Clyde aboard the Bug Catcha.
Coast Guard Cutter Willow fought the fire, but the heavily damaged Miss Lynne quickly sank near Cilley Ledge with no sign of pollution.
Cushman said the fire apparently started in the engine compartment of the inboard. When the men smelled smoke, they opened the compartment. Oxygen fed the fire, and that’s when it exploded into flames and smoke.
The men aboard the Miss Lynne had been hauling some of their traps, said Lt. Scott McCann, spokesman for the Coast Guard.
“This is an unfortunate situation for the two fishermen, but they did several things right that saved their lives,” said Capt. Michael Baroody, commanding officer of Coast Guard Sector Northern New England, in the release. “They used their radio to make a distress call to notify the Coast Guard, they relayed the critical information we needed, and they donned immersion suits.”
The Coast Guard will conduct an investigation into the cause of the incident.