Friendship Fire Dept., Marine Patrol assist sailor whose boat turtled in frigid waters

Tue, 05/19/2020 - 7:30pm

FRIENDSHIP —  The Maine Marine Patrol responded to a report of an overturned sailboat this morning and assisted the boat’s owner, who had been brought ashore by members of the Friendship Fire Department, according to a news release from the Marine Patrol.

Clyde Blackwell, 65, of Waldoboro was recovered from on top of his 17-foot sailboat that had overturned near the shore of his Back Cove Road home. He yelled for help to a resident on shore who reported the incident, according to the release.

Blackwell launched his new boat from his home at 8:30 a.m. and was sailing between his home and Hungry Island, the Marine Patrol said. He was quickly caught by a gust of wind which caused the boat to overturn. Blackwell was in the water for a short time before he was able to pull himself on top of the capsized boat and hold onto the keel until help arrived approximately 15 minutes later.  

Acting Marine Patrol Sergeant Johnathan Luellen, who responded with Marine Patrol Officer Alex Michaud, placed Blackwell in a Marine Patrol vehicle and to warm him up. Blackwell was seen and transported home by Waldoboro EMS responders.

According to Marine Patrol, Blackwell was wearing multiple layers which likely prevented hypothermia from the brief immersion.

“However, for smaller sailboats and paddle craft we do recommend a wetsuit or a dry suit at this time of the year when, despite warm air temperatures, water temperatures can be cold enough to cause hypothermia very quickly,” said Luellen. “We know that the temperatures this week will start to rise, and people will want to get out on the water so we urge caution especially since water temperatures will still be very cold.”

“Thanks to the quick efforts of our partnering agencies, this case had a positive outcome,” said Chief Adam Smart, Officer in Charge, Coast Guard Station Boothbay Harbor. “With ocean temperatures still holding below 50 degrees, the cold water can quickly incapacitate a person and make it impossible to tread water while waiting for help.”

According to Marine Patrol, Blackwell was wearing a lifejacket when he got underway but removed it at some point.

“I cannot stress enough the importance of wearing a lifejacket at all times while you are out on the water,” added Chief Smart. “We are extremely fortunate there was no loss of life, but the reality is that anyone not wearing a life jacket drastically reduces their likelihood to survive.”