SURRY, Maine — Two men made it safely to shore Sunday after the boat in which they were sailing capsized in Union River Bay.
The incident remains under investigation, and it is still unclear what caused the sailboat to capsize, according to Officer Dale Sprowl of the Maine Marine Patrol.
Sprowl said the owner, Carl Stecher, 53, of the Ellsworth area, and passenger John Fogarty, 65, of Aloha, Hawaii, were sailing in Union River Bay on Sunday afternoon when the accident occurred. Both men were thrown into the water. Fogarty managed to get onto the boat, and Stecher grabbed the keel, which aided him in righting the boat.
The boat was under sail when it capsized, and when it righted, it took off rapidly. Fogarty was not an adept sailor and was unable to bring the vessel back to pick up Stecher. The boat eventually went aground on the shore in Trenton, and Fogarty was able to get ashore.
Stecher floated in the opposite direction toward the Surry shore. He was able to swim to shore in the area near Contention Cove and the Surry Inn.
Both men were wearing personal flotation devices at the time, Sprowl said.
“He was able to inflate the PFD,” he said. “In my opinion, that saved his life.”
Sprowl did not know the water temperature at the time of the accident, but waters along the Down East coast generally run in the mid to high 40s at this time of year.
A local property owner saw Stecher come ashore and went to check on him. At about the same time, a deputy from the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department arrived.
Stecher was taken to Maine Coast Memorial Hospital in Ellsworth where he was treated and later released.
Besides the Marine Patrol and the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department, the U.S. Coast Guard started a boat to the scene. Local fire departments also were alerted, and the Ellsworth harbor master had readied a boat to join the search.
In a separate incident, the Coast Guard worked with rangers from Acadia National Park to rescue a man stranded on Bar Island on Sunday morning.
According to Boson’s Mate Luc Lheureux at the Coast Guard Station in Southwest Harbor, the man, whose name was not available, had walked out to the island from Bar Harbor at low tide. When the tide came in, he became stranded on the island.
The man waved and was able to attract the attention of people on shore in Bar Harbor. They notified the local police who, in turn, called the Coast Guard.
“We couldn’t ground our boat, so we worked with Acadia National Park,” Lheureux said. “The rangers put a canoe on our vessel, and we took them within 50 yards of the shore.”
The rangers paddled to the island, picked up the man, who was not injured, and brought him back to the Coast Guard boat. He was then taken back to the town dock in Bar Harbor.