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SPRUCE HEAD, Maine — A 42-foot lobster boat that has been missing since it broke free from its mooring during a recent blizzard has been found about 150 miles from its home port.
“I’m super happy,” said Jason Hooper, who owns the lobster boat XTreme Measures.
Hooper conducted an extensive search for the boat after it went missing from its mooring off Spruce Head on Feb. 10. Gusts during the Feb. 9-11 storm reached more than 60 mph.
“I’d always hoped it could be found but as time went on, I was getting less optimistic,” Hooper said.
Hooper had the $350,000 boat custom-built seven years ago at Clark Island Boat Works in St. George.
He said the crew of the Amy Philbrick, an offshore lobster boat owned by Shaftmaster of Newington, N.H., spotted the missing vessel while fishing on the Georges Bank. Hooper said the location is about 150 miles from Spruce Head.
The Amy Philbrick is towing Xtreme Measures to Portsmouth, N.H., and Hooper said it likely will not be back on shore until Wednesday evening. He said he has not been in direct contact with the crew who found his boat, but has talked to Shaftmaster officials on shore as well as with the U.S. Coast Guard.
Hooper’s stepfather, William Molloy, who has experience with boats and fishing, said boat owners become attached to their vessels. He said everyone was thrilled that the boat was found and is being returned.
Rockland harbor master Ed Glaser said he is not surprised that the boat was found despite the strong winds and high seas of the past two weeks.
“This shows that lobster boats are seaworthy,” Glaser said.
He said with good pumps and a strong battery, the boat should have been able to stay afloat. He said while it is not unusual for a boat to drift out to sea during a storm, it is unusual for it to have gone that far.
Lt. Nick Barrow of the Coast Guard station in South Portland said that Hooper was fortunate that the vessel was found, was in good condition, and that the Amy Philbrick crew was willing to tow it back to shore. He said the vessel was found 135 miles southeast of Portsmouth.
Barrow said while it is not unheard of for vessels to drift that far, most of the time they hit rocks or run aground. He said there was one instance of a sailboat breaking from its mooring off Cape Cod, Mass., and being found in Spain in January 2012 after being missing for more than three years.
Hooper said the Xtreme Measures had an emergency beacon on board but that it activates only if the boat sinks.
Barrow also praised the owner for notifying the Coast Guard, saying if he had not and the vessel had been found, a massive search may have been undertaken for its crew.