Lone captain escapes sinking vessel



Photo By Robert Levin

The disabled Tiger Shark is battered against rocks just south of Thunder Hole in Acadia National Park on Tuesday.

BAR HARBOR — A charter fishing boat was abandoned and left to drift into the rocks of Acadia National Park just south of Thunder Hole after it began taking on water through the hull Tuesday.

By Wednesday morning, what remained of the battered boat was mostly submerged. Most of her hull planks had been torn away, and the passenger cabin collapsed.

A mayday call for the 50-foot Tiger Shark went out just before 9 a.m. Boat captain Dan Lunt told the Islander he was alone on the boat, in the process of taking it to Southwest Harbor to put it up for the winter, when a hull plank apparently came loose.

“I twisted around a wave, and that’s when something started happening,” Capt. Lunt said. “I went to check the engine compartment, and I could see the water coming in. It was coming in fast. I could see it rising.”

As Capt. Lunt was traveling, he was being shadowed by a Hinckley picnic boat named Reconnoiter, operated by Mark Masselink of Sorrento. Masselink had been experiencing some minor mechanical difficulties, Capt. Lunt said, and so had been staying close. Shortly after the mayday call went out, Mr. Masselink pulled Reconnoiter up to the side of Tiger Shark, and Capt. Lunt was able to step onto the boat, he said.

“When he got over in position, I hung up with the Coast Guard and got across on his boat. The whole thing took about 5 minutes,” Capt. Lunt said. “We’re very grateful and appreciated his good Samaritanism.”

The pair motored on to the Coast Guard base in Southwest Harbor.

Left to drift, Tiger Shark was pushed ashore on ledges just south of Thunder Hole, where a crowd of onlookers watched it get battered against the rocks for the rest of the day. The U.S. Coast Guard sent a 47-foot motor life boat to the scene, but the crew was only able to monitor for pollution. It was determined too unsafe to try to pull the wreck off the rocks.

Tiger Shark ran recreational fishing trips off the Bar Harbor Inn pier downtown. It is owned by Steve Pagels, who also owns the Margaret Todd schooner, docked at the same pier. Capt. Lunt said he has worked on the boat for around four years. He has a lifetime of maritime experience, he said, having fished commercially since he was 18 years old.

By Tuesday afternoon, a Coast Guard environmental response team and responders from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and the National Park Service had secured Tiger Shark to shore, according to Coast Guard materials. A remediation crew with Safe Harbors removed the batteries from the boat and siphoned off approximately 100 gallons of diesel fuel. A light sheen of oil on the water at the site was reported.

“Our highest priorities in this response are the safety of the public and the responders, and protection of the environment,” said Cmdr. Troy Vest, chief of response, Coast Guard Sector Northern New England. “The safe removal of the fuel and batteries was a critical step in mitigating the risk to the environment, and it took place just in time with weather conditions worsening.”

Boat owner Steve Pagels will bear the costs of salvage and remediation operations.

The Coast Guard on Wednesday asked all mariners to transit the area with caution due to debris in the water. The vessel is marked with an orange float and stroke light.

Coast Guard officials continue to investigate the cause of the incident.

Robert Levin

Robert Levin

Former reporter Robert Levin covered the people, businesses, governmental and nonprofit agencies of Bar Harbor. [email protected]

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