OSTERVILLE, Mass. — Panicked boaters watched in horror as a 13-foot boat capsized in the West Bay waters sending nine people overboard.
“We didn’t see them in the water and we didn’t know if they were dead or alive honestly,” said Nicole Weldon of South Boston who was boating nearby. “We were about to go in the ocean in the same size boat and then when we saw that boat upside down we came back in actually because it was so scary. It was traumatizing.”
It happened around noon off Sea View Avenue in Osterville as the boaters shifted their weight to one side of the boat as strong waves came through. Good Samaritans in a nearby boat pulled all nine people out of the bay, but what saved their lives may have been what they were wearing.
“There are people who are going home and eating dinner right now because they wore their life jackets,” said assistant harbormaster Jarod Smoller.
Rescue crews thought their day was done and then four hours later they had to go back to the same location and tow a second boat to shore.
“It’s been a while since I’ve had two in one day and these are two significant ones,” said Smoller. “Pay attention to conditions. This gentleman, the conditions deteriorated on him through the course of the day and while he was returning to his home for he got caught in a situation nobody wants to be in.”
The owner of the 17-foot vessel says he stopped to check his GPS when strong waves and the following sea behind him flooded his boat. Crews say COVID-19 may be to blame for why they’ve had double the rescues this season.
“New boat registrations are up between 25 and 30 percent this season so that puts a lot of new boaters on the water,” said Smoller. “People are not necessarily able to take the boating safety classes because of COVID-19 so education is a little bit limited, but this has been a busy summer. We usually have five to seven on average and this year we are over 10.”
Regardless of whether boaters here took classes, they were all paying closer attention to the conditions.
“We were trying to have a nice relaxing fun weekend and that is kind of scary to see when you come out,” said Mike Deters of South Boston.
No one was hurt in either incident and other than some engine issues, there is no physical damage to either boat.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.
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