TRURO — Part-time Truro resident Lynda West went with her father-in-law, Jock West, to Longnook Beach on Tuesday to take photos of the calm waters with his drone at low tide.
“When we got here, I turned to him and said, ‘You hit the jackpot,’ ” Lynda said. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”
At the bottom of the steep slope below the beach parking lot was a 78-foot blue-and-white groundfishing boat, the F/V Carrabassett, beached on the sand with one green light on and its radar dish spinning.
“Do you hear that?” Lynda asked, standing a few feet away from the ship. If you listened, there was a light hum. “They might have to get it towed off the beach, but I don’t think anyone’s in there,” she guessed.
The Carrabassett belongs to Blue Harvest Fisheries and works out of New Bedford. Aboard on Tuesday were five crew members who had embarked on a four-day trip pursuing haddock. At approximately 2:30 a.m. Tuesday, the fleet was notified that the vessel had run aground in Truro. The crew remained on board “in the interest of safety and security,” with no reported injuries, according to a statement from Robert Vanasse, founder of Stove Boat Communications, a public relations firm representing Blue Harvest.
The Coast Guard was called between three and four in the morning and treated the case as a search and rescue with no injuries or pollution reported, said Coast Guard Petty Officer Emma Fliszar. “The only follow-up at this point is working with salvage to get them off the beach.
“Salvage,” Fliszar added, “just means it hit the ground.”
A tugboat service was engaged to pull the vessel off the beach, said Vanasse on Tuesday. “However, as the next high tide today is 7:49 p.m., more than three hours after sunset, the procedure will be delayed until tomorrow during daylight, for the safety of all involved,” he said. “The crew will remain aboard through the towing operation tomorrow morning.”
As of Friday, Dec. 3, the boat was still stranded at Longnook, with plans to attempt to tow it postponed till Saturday. The cause of the incident is under investigation, according to Vanasse.
“That’s not a good situation there,” said Provincetown fisherman Chris King, looking at the boat from the parking lot. King owns the 56-foot scalloper F/V Donna Marie docked at MacMillan Pier.
“This doesn’t happen frequently,” said King. “I’ve been here 60 years, and I’ve seen it happen a few dozen times.” His father, William W. “Billy” King, was the captain of the Patricia Marie, which sank in 1976 with the loss of all hands on board.
King said he has an app on his phone that tracks some of the boats. “He was fishing just beyond that tanker last night,” he said, pointing out to sea. He speculated that the cause could have been human error or a leak. “There are a bunch of scenarios that could have played out,” he said.
Soon, King was joined by lobsterman Bill Souza. “You don’t see this often,” Souza said, shaking his head as he caught sight of the ship.
“Word travels fast,” King laughed.
Both fishermen said it made sense that the crew was on board. “I don’t see a lot of footprints coming this way,” said King. “They’re probably just trying to stay warm.”
The last time Souza saw a boat run aground like this was about 20 years ago, he said. “With current technology, it’s not as common anymore,” he said. “But, you know, stuff happens.”
Carrabassett was purchased by Blue Harvest Fisheries last year from the family of Carlos Rafael. Rafael was known as “The Codfather,” a seafood kingpin who controlled one of the largest fishing fleets in the U.S. But federal authorities in 2016 placed Rafael at the center of a criminal investigation involving “fake Russian mobsters, fake haddock and duffel bags of cash,” according to a 2019 Washington Post report.
Rafael was arrested for tax evasion, cash smuggling, and mislabeling fish to dodge quotas, and he served more than 30 months of a nearly four-year sentence before his release from prison in early 2020, according to Dartmouth Week.
Rafael then reportedly sold his fleet as part of a settlement with the federal government intended to get him out of the fishing industry for good. By December 2020, he was in the process of buying a defunct golf course in Dartmouth to build a function hall.
“We’re not golf people,” Rafael told Dartmouth Week. “I ain’t getting into golf. I hate the game.”