Between storms, Camden Harbor Master and Good Samaritans halt vessel from sinking

Mon, 01/23/2023 - 2:15pm

    CAMDEN — An old fishing vessel moored in Sherman’s Cove in Camden Harbor came perilously close to completely sinking Jan. 22, as its batteries died and bilge pump stopped functioning.

    The boat, Flying Pigs, had been moored in the harbor for the past four years, wintering over. But the string of storms and ocean swells proved too much weather for the 70-foot wooden vessel. With a dead bilge pump and no way to get rid of incoming water, the boat started to fill, pushing the boat down below the gunwales.

    It was Camden Police Officer Marc Bennett who first noticed the sinking. He called Camden Harbor Master Steve Pixley at 12:30 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 21.
    “Steve, I’m no boat expert but I got eyes on a big boat on a mooring and it looks real low in the water,” recounted Pixley, from his conversation with Bennett. “It’s sinking.”
    Pixley knew the vessel, which is thought to have been built in the 1940s for fishing and general transport. More recently, it has been a project boat, to undergo renovations.
    Pixley immediately called one of his chief mooring inspectors, Brad Scott, for assistance in saving the vessel. Pixley then picked up a crash pump — a gas-powered pump — from the Camden Fire Department, and he and Scott began pumping the boat, until early evening when darkness fell.
    Early Sunday morning, Jan. 23, Pixley, along with Adam and Brad Scott, and the boat’s owner, Thomas McKay, went back to boat to finish pumping it, but found it too full of water to attempt any repairs at the mooring.
    The vessel was, as Pixley described, “sinking lower into the clutches of the sea.”
    Then, they decided on Option B, said Pixley: Hip tow the boat to Steamboat Landing. There, the Flying Pigs was drained of water, and the holes marked for plugging. Next steps, according to Pixley, include either getting new batteries and starting the bilge pump, and caulking the holes, or towing the boat 12 miles offshore, and sinking it.
    Pixley thanked those who helped to save the vessel: Cory Roberts, an officer with the Maine Marine Patrol, the Camden fire Department, “and of course the Scott Brothers,” he said.