PROVINCETOWN — Noah Santos and Malcolm Hunter were working on the docks at Flyer’s Boat Rentals on Tuesday, May 17 when the mayday call dropped around 10:10 a.m. A lobster boat had capsized off Race Point, and a crew of four needed help. Santos and Hunter sped to MacMillan Pier by boat from Flyer’s, boarded two separate Tow Boat U.S. Provincetown vessels, and headed to their coordinates. They arrived in roughly 20 minutes, doing 35 to 40 knots through choppy waters.
The radio report had advised them to head two miles off Race Point — but no lobster boat was to be seen. Santos and Hunter split and searched the vicinity. Still no luck. The Coast Guard, dispatching aircraft, scanned from the sky. They spotted a bright orange life raft bobbing in the water.
The Coast Guard plane circled overhead, and the pair of tow boats zeroed in on the four crewmen: Capt. Glenn Rorro, Chris Gibson, Giacomo Luke, and Braden Wilson.
That day, as the Angela & Mary III took on water, the life raft refused to cooperate, said Rorro. It had failed to inflate automatically, and, to make matters worse, it wasn’t tied on properly. Untethered, the raft drifted away from the boat. But Luke jumped into the 49-degree water — without his survival suit. He managed to swim about 75 yards after the wayward raft, inflate the stubborn thing, then swim it back to his crewmates.
“If Giacomo hadn’t done that,” Rorro said, “we would have died.”
Moments earlier, Rorro had tumbled into the boat’s fish hold. It was another close call. Had crewman Gibson not pulled him out, “I would’ve gone down with the boat,” Rorro said.
When the Angela & Mary III finally capsized, the crew members on the boat, with no other choice, jumped into the water.
“They were wearing very light clothes,” Hunter recalled, adding that they had not had time to get on their survival suits. “Only the captain had his on,” Hunter said, “but only halfway.”
When the tow boats approached the crew members, “they looked pretty shaken up,” Santos told the Independent. “Giacomo, who used to work for us, was really happy to see us.”
Hunter took the crew back to MacMillan Pier, where the Provincetown rescue squad was waiting to check them out. There were no injuries reported.
Santos, meanwhile, surveyed the scene. The Angela & Mary III was submerged upside-down. Santos hooked onto the vessel, laying out as much line as he could, roughly 600 feet. He also had his knife out — should he feel the capsized vessel pull his tow boat down, he said, “I didn’t want to be attached.”
The Angela & Mary III was dragged back to the pier. A green “Christmas tree of trawl line,” as Santos described it, streamed behind. The next day, Rorro contracted Winkler Construction & Crane Co. to lift the green tangle from the docks and into a truck bed.
“If it wasn’t for the three young guys, I wouldn’t have made it home,” Rorro said. He’s 56, while the other three are in their 20s and 30s.
“We were all really relieved to find live souls in good health,” Hunter said. “When you get a call like that on the radio, you fear the worst. When your boat is going down fast, survival time is going to be very limited. They were very fortunate that they had a life raft they were able to get into.”
The Angela & Mary III capsized on the second day of this year’s lobster season. Rorro is currently awaiting follow-up from his insurance company.