New charts may save lives during dragging season in Cobscook Bay

Posted Sept. 28, 2010, at 12:13 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 12:07 p.m.

EASTPORT — Local pilot Robert Peacock has arranged for new, highly detailed charts of the bottom of Cobscook Bay around Falls Island to be available prior to the dragging season.

Peacock said the charts are so clear “they actually show the drag marks on the bottom from the previous season.”

Urchin season begins Oct. 1 and the scallop season starts in December.

Timing the release of the information is key due to the loss of seven fishermen in Cobscook Bay between December 2008 and November 2009, including two draggers and five fishermen in the Falls Island area.

In March 2009, the fishing vessel All American went down quickly in Cobscook Bay, killing the captain, Loren Lank, 53, of Lubec, and deckhand Logan Preston, 19, of Roque Bluffs. Lank’s body was recovered immediately. Preston’s remains were recovered in January 2010 and identified through DNA..

On Oct. 20, 2009, the Bottom Basher, a 34-foot urchin dragger out of Lubec, sank with three fishermen on board near where the All American was lost. Searchers found the body of Daryl Cline, 41, of Machiasport the day after the sinking and recovered the remains of Norman Johnson, 57, of Cutler, in December. The boat’s owner, Joseph Jones, 29, of Trescott remains missing.

The so-called chartlets are printed in feet and clearly show rocks, ledges and other obstructions.

“This will give our fishermen a better idea of what they are dealing with,” Peacock said. He said that if fishermen were to put the charts they are currently using — last updated in the 1800s — next to the new charts, they are dramatically different with the newer maps clearly showing individual rocks, as well as ledges and other obstructions on the ocean bottom.

The chartlets were provided by the NOAA Navigational Response Team 5, which has been charting the bottom of the bay all summer.

Peacock said the charts are informational only and are not to be used for navigation. The NOAA team will complete its work next spring.

“We expect the depth corrected navigational charts to be ready in 2011, but the bottom data is useful now,” Peacock said.

He praised the NOAA team and its work.

“We were so lucky to get the NOAA NRT 5 team here,” Peacock said. “They are a special group of scientists who really are experts at their craft, hard working, and really got into the community spirit.”

Peacock said he can provide the chartlets to every captain and boat that drags in Cobscook Bay.

They can also be obtained through the Maine Department of Marine Resources.

Peacock can be reached at 263-6403 or at qpilot@maineline.net.

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