Sail Training Vessel Summerwind
U.S. Merchant Marine Academy

August 8th 2010
Castine to Camden Classic Race

At approximately 1300 on 8 August 2010 the Sail Training Vessel Summerwind, crewed by 16 Midshipmen and staff from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, was  underway approximately 1.1 nm east of Isleboro Harbor, ME on port tack in 10-12 knots of southerly wind and dense fog.  Summerwind  is a 100′ marconi rigged Alden Schooner, built in 1929.  At the time of the rescue Summerwind was beating to weather flying main, fore, staysail, and genoa.  

At approximately 1255 a contact was spotted on radar on the starboard bow, this information was relayed to the forward lookouts.  Visibility was not more than 300′.  At 1300 the forward lookout reported a vessel on starboard tack at a range of about 250′.  Aboard Summerwind the decision was made to duck, and the main was eased and the rudder put over.  The CPA of Summerwind and Phalarope, a 1952 Concordia 39, was about 100′.  As Phalarope crossed Summerwind’s bow the cry man-overboard was shouted from the foredeck of Summerwind.  Initially we suspected that a crew member had fallen over from Summerwind, but we could not see anyone in the water, and heard no splash.  The information that the man-overboard was from Phalarope, and not Summerwind was quickly relayed aft, and the crew sprung into action, initially steering to avoid the man as he had fallen directly in our path.  As we passed the man in the water, Midshipman Tim Higgins grabbed a PFD from deck storage, and threw  it to the man in the water.  

As Summerwind is 100′ in length and weighs close to 200,000 lbs., it was not possible to immediately stop and return.  Fortunately in this instance, race rules required all vessels to tow a tender.  I jumped aft, leaving my duties as sailing master to the midshipman, I boarded our 12′ wooden tender and cast off the painter.  Quickly realizing that we had taken the oars out of the tender before the race, I grabbed a PFD and used it to paddle to the man overboard.  Within about 30 seconds I was close enough to throw the tender’s painter to the man in the water and pull him alongside.  At this point he had been in the 58 degree water for 2-3 minutes, and was extremely cold and tired.  I assessed his condition, asked his name, and whether he had been hit by a boom, or had any injuries.  He wanted to rest before climbing aboard the tender, and in order to keep him conscious and out of shock, I introduced myself, and commented that I felt a bit of a fool for having to paddle to him without oars, he replied that he felt a bit of a fool for falling of his ship- I remarked that he had me beat.  

Once rested I rolled the rail of the tender down the waters edge, and rolled him into the boat.  By this point both Phalarope and Summerwind had turned around and were returning to the tender.  From the tender I nearly lost sight of both sailing vessels in the fog.  Had either vessel been looking only for a head in the water, and not the two of us floating safely in the tender I feel this situation would have turned into a search instead of a rescue.  Phalarope sailed up to the tender and I passed them the painter.  Once alongside we transferred their crew member back aboard, and he went below to warm up and change clothes.  I asked to borrow the oars from Phalaropes tender, and rowed back to Summerwind, made fast the tender and resumed racing.

Aboard the Summerwind the most elemental training for MOB recovery led to just about every crew member lining the rail with arms out stretched, pointing at first to the victim and then to the tender.    We had been sailing at better than 6 knots and the Captain gave orders to put the main engine on line and furl the two headsails as they quickly realized that the tender’s oars were below and that they might need to maneuver the schooner to retrieve the MOB.  One crew member was assigned the task of plotting positions, issuing security calls, and making certain that while we assisted in retrieving the victim, we were not putting ourselves in danger either by running aground or colliding with the other vessels racing and in the area.

Summerwind Crew-

  • Jonathan Kabak- Master
  • CDR Chris Gasiorek, USMS KP’95 – Sailing Master
  • Brian Giorgio, KP ’08 – Engineer
  • Michael Dybvik KP ’10 Mate
  • Charles Floyd-Jones KP ’10 – Mate
  • Pat Showell KP ’09 – Mate
  • Tiffany Smythe – Volunteer Coach
  • M/N Misty Harris KP ‘ 12
  • M/N Karen Gilkey KP ’12
  • M/N Ben Reavis KP ’12
  • M/N Chris Leach KP’ 12
  • M/N James Pillion KP ’13
  • M/N Eric Madsen KP ’13
  • M/N Jared Reeves KP’13
  • M’N Jeff Musselman KP’12
  • M/N Tim Higgins KP’ 12
  • M/N Amos London KP ’12

I believe that the training and practice that our midshipman receive made this rescue a success.  All hands stepped up and performed admirably. 

CDR Chris Gasiorek, USMS
Sailing Master / Director of Waterfront Activities
U.S. Merchant Marine Academy