COBSCOOK BAY, Maine — Divers from the Maine State Police, Marine Patrol and Department of Marine Resources on Monday found the hull of what they believe is the fishing vessel All American, upside down on the bottom of the bay.
Lt. Alan Talbot of the Maine Department of Marine Resources said that retrieving the All American could help explain why seven local men and two fishing vessels have been lost while fishing on Cobscook Bay in the past year.
The All American sank on March 25 in 37-degree water with sternman Logan Preston, 19, of Roque Bluffs, and pilot Loren Lank, 53, of Lubec, on board. The pair were dragging for sea urchins off Leighton Point near Pembroke. Lank’s body was discovered the day the boat sank, but Preston has been missing ever since.
Talbot said Monday the hull was searched “to the best of our ability” and did not reveal Preston’s remains.
Attempts to raise the hull were unsuccessful, Talbot said, despite the efforts of a half-dozen divers and several local fishing vessels.
“We couldn’t get it up,” Talbot said. “The tide was changing and it became much too dangerous. We set it back down.”
Talbot said the location of the vessel is clearly marked, and divers and recovery vessels will return in the near future to try to retrieve it.
He said recovery plans are not final but that lower temperatures expected over the next few days should not impede the recovery.
“We’ll do the best to get it ashore,” he said.
The hull was found off Leighton Point, where the All American last was seen. It was one of five sites of interest that were identified in early November by a side-sonar radar scan conducted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the first site searched Monday.
Five Maine State Police divers, two Department of Marine Resources divers and two Marine Patrol divers departed about 7 a.m. Monday from the Lubec dock aboard the DMR vessel Sentinel and a Maine Marine Patrol chase boat.
Local pilot Robert Peacock, of Eastport, who has been instrumental in the search for missing boats in the bay, said the weather was good with plenty of sunlight and calm seas.
Peacock said the dives were timed to coincide with low water at 9 a.m., and when local fishermen saw the dive team readying, they approached the team to offer assistance.
“Everyone in the Down East area really appreciates the extensive efforts made by the DMR, NOAA, USCG, Lubec Fire Department, and now the state police in our attempts to understand these tragedies,” Peacock said. He added that closure for the missing fishermen’s families is needed but equally important is determining why the boats sank.
Seven fishermen have been lost in the Cobscook Bay area over the past year, including five aboard draggers. Including Preston, three are still missing.
On Dec. 2, 2008, Kristopher Fergerson, 27, of Lubec, accidentally drowned while harvesting periwinkles.
On March 25, 2009, Lank and Preston were lost when the All America sank. Lank’s body was found the same day in a debris field discovered by his stepson, also an urchin dragger. The All American was owned by Roger Preston, of Roque Bluffs, Preston’s father.
On Oct. 20, the Bottom Basher, a 34-foot urchin dragger out of Lubec, sank with three fishermen on board, about a mile from where the All American went down. Searchers found the body of Daryl Cline, 41, of Lubec. The bodies of the boat’s owner, Joseph Jones, 29, of Trescott, and Norman Johnson, 57, of Cutler, remain missing.
On Nov. 10, Arthur “Skip” Calder, 51, of Perry, drowned while clamming in East Bay. His body was found a week later in Pattangal Cove, about a mile from where he presumably entered the water.