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The following story was written by Jenni Glenn, a staff writer for the Salem Evening News and was published in the January 15, 2004, paper. Following this story below is a short story of my own, but I thought my personal story would have more of an impact if the reader had read this story first:


Dateline: Gloucester, MA:

“Gillnet fisherman Dave Marciano and his two-person crew were cleaning pollock on the deck of his boat, the Angelica Joseph, on Tuesday when the high water alarm sounded about 1:30 p.m.

At first, Marciano said he thought fish scales or debris had clogged one of the 38-foot boat’s bilge pumps, a problem that could be easily fixed.

A half hour later, the Beverly resident was treading water and watching the Angelica Joseph slip beneath the waves.

The 26-year-old wooden boat, worth about $85,000, sank about 2 p.m., about five miles northeast of Thacher Island, said Doug Mehrman, an officer at the U.S. Coast Guard station in Gloucester.

Marciano and the crew – Gloucester residents Shawn Doyle and Sarah Pyndus – escaped without injury.

Marciano said he believes a split plank caused the boat to sink.

The three left for Jeffrey’s Ledge, a 33-mile-long underwater ledge northeast of Gloucester, to fish for pollock on Tuesday. The Angelica Joseph steamed out from the Marine Railways in East Gloucester about 2 a.m. and fished about 26 miles east-northeast of Gloucester, said Marciano.

Marciano said he was making an effort to squeeze in one more 15-hour fishing day before sub-zero temperatures hit.

But the weather worsened in the afternoon and convinced Marciano and three nearby vessels to head home. Marciano said the wind was blowing from the southwest at about 25 knots. Four-to-six-foot waves were slapping the wooden boat.

The Angelica Joseph, traveling slowly, had made it about halfway to Gloucester when the alarm signaled the water level was rising in the boat’s hold. Marciano said. Both bilge pumps were working to empty the water, but two steady streams were pouring into the boat. He turned on a third pump and set up a fourth emergency pump he carries on board.

“That bought us the time to call everyone,” he said.

The Angelica Joseph’s crew notified the Coast Guard they were taking on water at 1:31 p.m. The closest vessel, a local longline boat called the Partner, was about a mile away and came to the Angelica Joseph’s aid.

In the meantime, the crew put on survival suits – designed to insulate them from the cold water – and started throwing their nets and the landed pollock overboard in an effort to save the boat, Marciano said.

Marciano gave the order to abandon ship into a life raft at 2:04 p.m., said Petty Officer Lauren Smith, Coast Guard spokeswoman.

Doyle and Pyndus jumped into the water and started swimming toward the life raft, Marciano said. He said he saw the Partner come up alongside them and knew they were safe.

Marciano waited until the last minute to abandon ship. Swimming about 30 feet away from the Angelica Joseph, he watched the waves wash over the boat. Water had completely covered the deck within 30 seconds, he said.

“I never saw a boat sink before, and I never thought I’d see mine.” he said. “It was kind of surreal.”

Marciano said he hopes to buy another boat and continue fishing, although he said he doesn’t expect insurance to fully cover the cost. The Angelica Joseph’s replacement value was $85,000, he said. Marciano also must replace $40,000 to $50,000 worth of nets he lost during the sinking.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I read this story in the paper on Thursday, January 15th, here in Salem, MA. It’s been below zero weather this week here.

Last week my husband, who is a lobsterman by trade, got a phone call from a friend, Hugh, who does offshore fishing. Hugh asked Paul if he would like to accompany him on his boat for about a month, off and on when the weather allows, as a second crew member. He said he would only be going out on the “good days” in January/February. Apparently, Hugh normally does this alone. He goes way out, too. I don’t know exactly how far, but they are gone from early morning until evening… a similar day to the one described in the story above. Paul told Hugh he would “have to run it by the wifey” first, and he did.

When I heard what he had to say, I cringed. I thought for a moment… “Does Paul really want to do this? Would I sound like a controlling wife if I asked him not to go?” I thought to myself. It’s damn cold around this neck of the country, and out on the ocean, way out on the ocean (much farther out than Paul is used to going) was a scary proposition.

Finally, knowing myself and how I worry when he is only out in his lobster boat just off the coastline around here, I said that it was up to him, of course, but if I have a vote in the matter, then my vote would have to be “Nay”. I said I would understand if this was something he really wanted to do, but that I would probably worry the entire time he was gone, and I’d probably never get any work done! He thought about it a few minutes, and he said that he was kind of leaning toward declining, also. In the good weather, I think he would have said “Yes,” but here it is, one of the coldest winters we’ve ever had, and since I had a vote and it was “Nay”, then he would vote “Nay” as well. He called Hugh back and declined.

I only hope, if Hugh does go out by himself on the “good days” coming up, that God will keep an extra keen eye on him and bring him home safe and sound.

After this incident about Paul and Hugh, which happened last week, I read this story about the local fisherman whose boat sunk.

I knew, then, that we had made the right decision for us… and may God go with you, Hugh!

11:18 am - 16 January 2004


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