TRENTON, Maine — A 17-year-old lobsterman swam to safety Thursday afternoon after his 16-foot aluminum skiff sank at the mouth of the Jordan River in the Mount Desert Narrows.
The teenager, whose name was withheld because of his age, was tending some lobster traps in his 16-foot aluminum skiff about 12:45 p.m. when the propeller of his boat’s motor got caught up in some tangled lines, pinning the stern down, officials from Maine Marine Patrol and the U.S. Coast Guard’s Sector Northern New England said.
When the teen tried to cut the propeller free, waves from the incoming tide washed over the sides of the vessel, Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Rob Childress said.
“The tide moves pretty quick in there,” Childress said. “The tide got him to a place where his vessel started taking on water.”
The boy then went to the bow and managed to fire off two flares before he was forced to abandon the boat and swim to shore, a distance of about half a mile. Childress said other boaters saw the flares and contacted the Coast Guard.
“We diverted a chopper and a 65-foot Coast Guard cutter to the area, but it was pretty much over before we could get there,” Childress said.
Maine Marine Patrol Officer Colin MacDonald said the boy’s skiff overturned and sank.
“He’s fine,” MacDonald said. “We’ve contacted his parents. They’ve got some friends who are mussel draggers, and they’re making arrangements to get his boat out.”
MacDonald said the teenager had life jackets on board but was not wearing one when the boat went down. He said state law requires that anyone 10 or younger wear a life jacket when aboard a boat.