CAMDEN — Just after 9 a.m. this morning, July 13, a couple aboard a 45-foot motor yacht headed out of Camden Harbor to cruise Penobscot Bay. They had filled up with fuel at Lyman-Morse Marina and the day, with clear skies and balmy temperatures, was promising. They got the Band Wagon, a Sabre yacht, under way and pointed east toward the open water.
But Camden Harbor has its treacherous rocks, some visible at high tide, some not. As the Bandwagon traveled toward the Inner Ledges, the captain slipped to the wrong side of Nun No. 6, and slammed into a sharp edge of underwater granite. The force of the impact ripped a large hole in the fiberglass hull.
A distress call went out, and as Camden Harbor Master Steve Pixley rushed to his boat, Brad Scott, a Hope fisherman, also came to the aid of the Band Wagon.
Scott and his sternman, Charlie Garrigan, had been outside the harbor aboard Web, setting lobster traps. The Coast Guard and the Border Patrol, which happened to be on Penobscot Bay in that agency’s vessel, also heard the call and headed toward Camden.
Within 10 minutes, the Band Wagon was filling with water. The boat’s owners, from Marblehead, Mass., climbed into their dinghy with its 6-horsepower outboard, and reported that the Band Wagon could not stay afloat.
Scott arrived, tied a line from the Web to the Band Wagon, and started towing the yacht back toward the inner harbor. Pixley, meanwhile, was strategizing how best to save the Band Wagon while averting a wreck in the heavily trafficked harbor channel.
“I first thought of beaching it on Steamboat Landing because I did not want it to sink in the channel,” he said.
Suddenly, however, the wind changed. A gust blew toward the channel and away from Steamboat Landing, and Pixley saw a window of opportunity.
“I called Lyman-Morse,” said Pixley. “‘Can you get slings ready?’”
The slings are the hardware on the Marine Travelift used to hoist boats from the water and transport them onto land. Lyman-Morse is on the east side of the harbor on the edge of the inner harbor.
The Web was pulling hard; still, the sinking boat was heavy to haul and Scott fought to maintain steerage and to keep the Web itself from peril.
The captain of the Band Wagon used his dinghy to help push the Web’s bow into the wind so Scott could keep going.
Pixley hooked a line from the town’s pump-out boat, and told the Border Patrol to tie a line from its pontoon boat to a cleat on the Bandwagon.
Dominic Gioia, owner of the Lively Lady II, came out to help. Pixley told him to get a line ready from the shore.
“We made the corner and headed to the slings,” said Pixley. “The woman who owned the boat got on with me and was helping me with lines.”
But the boat was sinking, and when they got to the Lyman Morse boat ramp, it was almost a goner.
“Then she burped,” said Pixley.
Enough to send the hull higher in the water, and allow the Lyman-Morse crew to slip the slings around the Band Wagon.
As they hauled the boat up, the captain opened the back door of the yacht, and water gushed back into the harbor.
No fuel leaked from the tank, said Pixley.
“She was only under water for 20 minutes,” he said, adding that the boat should be fine.
“Brad Scott did a really good job,” said Pixley, thanking all who helped save a boat from sinking into Camden Harbor.
Reach Lynda Clancy at firstname.lastname@example.org; 207-706-6657