The salvage barge Charles Bradley lifts the hull of the 38-foot lobster boat Robin A. II from the waters of Prospect Harbor last Friday. Her Friendship, Maine, hailing port notwithstanding, the boat fished out of Prospect Harbor but her owner, who bought the boat last year, hadn’t changed the town during a busy fishing season. EDNA MARTIN PHOTO

Barge, diver raise sunken lobster boat

GOULDSBORO — The big winds that pummeled eastern Maine late in November did plenty of damage along the coast, including the sinking of the lobster boat Robin A. II in Prospect Harbor.

Last Friday, Bar Harbor scuba diver Ed Monat joined Captain Wid Minctons and his Southwest Harbor-based crane barge Charles Bradley in a salvage operation to raise the 38-footer owned by local lobsterman Gary Jordan from the harbor floor, Minctons said Monday.

The salvage operation was successful in recovering the sunken boat but, Minctons said, the vessel was a total loss.

Minctons spoke via cell phone from the sandy beach across the water from the Maine Fair Trade Lobster processing facility — the former Stinson sardine packing plant — where, he said, he set the hulk ashore after it was raised last week.

According to Monat, Jordan had just finished hauling the last of his lobster traps for the season and was preparing to haul his boat. Robin A. II was still moored in Prospect Harbor when Downeast Maine was hit by stormy weather on Nov. 26. Tides were exceptionally high and a weather buoy in the Eastern Maine Shelf weather buoy in the Gulf of Maine a few miles from the harbor recorded southeasterly winds gusting as high as 44 knots (about 50 miles per hour).

“She parted off her mooring and ended up on the beach,” Monat said Monday morning.

That was only the beginning of the adventure.

Before Jordan’s insurance company had arranged for the salvage team to come to Prospect Harbor, Minctons said, some local fishermen apparently made two attempts to haul the grounded boat off the shore at high tide. By the time the salvors arrived on Friday, the boat was under some 15 feet of water.

On Friday, clad in a dry suit with full scuba gear, Monat dove on the boat. His first step was to get a strap attached to a line from the crane under the boat’s stern. With the boat sitting in the mud, Monat couldn’t attach a forward strap until the crane lifted the stern high enough for him to work.

With both straps in place the boat was lifted out of the water and set on shore. There was some hope, Minctons said, that the boat might be repaired, but that doesn’t seem likely.

According to Minctons, the boat was in hard shape when it was recovered. The mooring bitt had been torn off the bow and the boat had “no wheelhouse anymore,” he said. Inspection once the boat was on the beach revealed the boat also had “a big hole in the keel, and the skeg where the rudder’s attached was broken right off.”

According to Minctons, the wrecked hull wouldn’t hold water. It filled when the tide came in and drained when the tide went out.

“That’s a pretty good indication you won’t fix her,” Minctons said.

The boat’s insurer agreed. On Monday, Minctons was arranging for a contractor to bring an excavator to the beach to demolish the hulk and haul the remains away in a dump truck.

Stephen Rappaport

Stephen Rappaport

Waterfront Editor at The Ellsworth American
Stephen Rappaport has lived in Maine for nearly 30 years. A lifelong sailor, he spends as much time as possible messing about in boats. [email protected]

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