Watts Cove
674 Wallston Road
Tenants Harbor, Maine 04860
tel. (207) 542-9805

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

SALVAGE - Bringing in the M/V Monhegan

SEPTEMBER, 24th, 2016
Submitted by Capt. Bob G. Bernstein

At approximately 1030H-1100H on Saturday September 24, 2016, Vector Marine Services intercepted a call to USCG STA Rockland, Maine from a vessel moored in the harbor reporting that the M/V Monhegan had slipped or broken her mooring and was adrift in the outer harbor.

I immediately called Dale Maxcy and the two of us agreed to meet at the Landings Marina in Rockland where we boarded the marina service skiff and headed out to the Monhegan, which we could clearly see from shore was adrift very close to the breakwater.

Winds were 15 to 20 knots with locally higher gusts and there was a 1’ to 2’ chop in the outer harbor.

On scene was the USCG 47’ MLB and the Rockland Harbormaster (Matthew Ripley) in the Rockland Harbor Boat, a twin engine RIB, which got underway at about the same time we did but transited faster and arrived on scene minutes before and was attempting to push the Monhegan away from the breakwater from the stern. Previous to this maneuver, the harbormaster had pushed the bow counterclockwise into the wind, a maneuver which gave the Monhegan much needed clearance off the breakwater rocks. This first effort saved the boat from going ashore but she was still in danger.

Dale Maxcy then maneuvered the marina boat alongside the Monhegan and I climbed aboard to assess the situation and figure out a way to secure the vessel, either by starting her engines and restoring steerageway or by dropping anchor. We tied off the marina boat and Dale then boarded the Monhegan. The two of us were the first to board the vessel.

Dale managed to gain entry to the main cabin, but we had no way of starting the engines or generators. We had no keys and no power to either generators or mains, and the wheelhouse doors were locked.

At this point, it was clear the Monhegan had gone adrift because the top link of her mooring chain had broken free of the eye bolt on the mooring ball. Her pennants were intact.
The USCG coxswain on the CG MLB attempted twice to get a line on the Monhegan to help move her farther away from the breakwater. On the first attempt, the crew tossed me a bow line which I was about to make fast when the coxswain changed his mind in favor of a stern line. For the second attempt, the crew on the stern began rigging a towline while the coxswain maneuvered back and forth across the bow and I stood by for a line. This second attempt was abandoned.

It was now approximately 1200H. (Exact time not certain.)

Charlie Weidman (sp?) and Noah Barnes then showed up in Charlie’s Dive Services’ tow/rescue boat, Pug. Noah Barnes boarded the Monhegan, and then Charlie, for a brief time. Charlie took a photo of the pennants made fast to the donkey engine on the bow, loosed the mooring ball still attached to Monhegan’s bow, and then returned to man Pug.

Dale and I had already agreed it would be possible to set the anchor if needed. I relayed this information to the Rockland Harbormaster and at or about this time he suggested maybe moving the boat to her old berth at the middle pier in Rockland. This would entail piloting her from the outer harbor, through the channel between shore and the mooring field, into her berth using an assist from the harbormaster boat and with Pug made fast to the stern.

At or before this time, Dale Maxcy and I had gathered lines and fenders. We set spring lines and fenders. Dale then got back into the marina boat and got underway. He would later pace the Monhegan and arrive at the middle pier to assist with line handling.

The harbormaster had determined it would be better if only one person was in charge of maneuvers and asked me if I would be that person and pilot the boat in. I said I would. He provided me a handheld VHF and comms were established on VHF Channel-23 with Charlie, Matt Ripley, and the USCG MLB.

The plan was to enter the inner harbor berthing areas from the main channel and proceed south from the USCG base to the Monhegan’s old pen at the middle pier.

A little later, Noah Barnes offered his yawl boat to provide additional assist. The harbormaster took him back to Lermond’s Cove and the Schooner Dock so he could get underway in the yawl boat. While they were gone, I asked Charlie to conduct some test maneuvers just outside of the main channel. Even without any other assist, we had fair maneuverability, but the winds were stiff and I felt it would be difficult if not impossible to make all maneuvers necessary to get her safely into her berth without the assist of least one stand-by pusher vessel.

Matt returned first and checked one last time with me and Charlie to see if we thought we could do this safely. I said we could, but I also suggested anchoring if he had second thoughts. He chose to make for the middle pier over anchoring. Noah Barnes then arrived in the yawl boat and suggested a transit through the south channel instead of the main channel, figuring it would provide a better approach against the NNW wind. We all agreed to take this route.

With Charlie made fast to the stern in Pug providing main propulsion, and both the harbormaster boat and the yawl boat standing by to assist, we made for the south channel and the middle pier. I served as pilot while a member of Noah Barnes’s crew came aboard for watch-standing and to assist with dock lines or anything else needed.
At one point, Matt Ripley had to leave to answer an emergency medical situation on the breakwater. He would not return until the final leg of the transit but would arrive in time to assist with final maneuvers.
The south channel turned out to have lobster gear, boats, and other potential mooring hazards but we made our way with bare steerageway. We only required an assist in the tightest sections, the last dogleg, and during the final docking maneuver.

M/V Monhegan was all-fast at her berth at approximately 1400H.

The efforts of Noah Barnes, Matt Ripley, and Dale Maxcy are to be commended. Charlie Weidman and Pug answered all bells as commanded. The teamwork and individual actions of all involved made for a smooth, successful, and accident-free rescue.

[Updated on 9/26/16 with additional information, and to correct designation of MLB from 44’ to 47’ and spelling of Charlie Weidman’s name.]

Submitted and Signed:

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