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October 22, 2012

Beach hazard

Sailboat beaches on island in rough seas


The names and addresses of the boat owner as well as the two crewmen, who were taking the boat from Maine to Florida, were not available yesterday. The U.S. Coast Guard’s media office in Boston did not return a phone call from The Daily News, and workers at the Coast Guard station on the Merrimack River in Newburyport said they were not authorized to release any information.

Steve Dombroski of Dracut, who rescued the two sailors, said he was fishing Friday when he noticed a sailboat coming very close to the beach. The sea was rough, with waves of 5 to 7 feet in height, if not larger, he said. Dombrowski is among the relatively few people who has a federal permit to bring his four-wheel-drive vehicle onto the beach for overnight fishing and camping.

Dombrowski called for emergency help and stayed with the two men until Newbury emergency workers arrived. The crewmen, both described as being in their 60s, were OK, Dombrowski said.

At the time of the accident, the tide was going out — it was about three hours after high tide. The area where the accident occurred is known locally to have shallow sand shoals.

The task of removing the sailboat from Plum Island was far different than another recent high-profile boat rescue. In late June, an antique, 20-foot wooden sailboat anchored in the middle of the Merrimack sank to the bottom after water seeped in between natural imperfections in the seals between the planks.

In that instance, a scuba diver attached several thick yellow balloons to the sailboat, which, once filled with air, provided 24,000 pounds of lift. Slowly, the boat emerged from the dark water, its masts followed by the green hull. Once the boat was high enough out of the water, it was towed to Merri-Mar Yacht Basin off Merrimac Street.

“That was a totally different challenge,” Goodridge said.

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