CHATHAM — Remarkably, there were no injuries when a charter boat collided with a commercial fishing boat in thick fog off Monomoy Point Saturday morning, sending the charter boat to the bottom.
At around 6:20 a.m., the charter boat Artemis II from Allen Harbor struck the starboard side of the Chatham-based commercial fishing boat Great Pumpkin. The Artemis, a 38-foot Pursuit, ended up on top of the Great Pumpkin, sliding aft and crushing fishing gear before tearing out the commercial boat’s transom and landing on its side in the water.
Some of the passengers from the Artemis ended up in the water, and some were dumped on the aft deck of the Great Pumpkin during the crash. All six passengers, along with the Artemis’ captain, Eric Awalt of Harwich, were taken aboard the Great Pumpkin and shuttled to Aunt Lydia’s Cove. The 40-foot Great Pumpkin had three men aboard, including captain Jan Margeson.
Other commercial fishing boats went to the scene to assist. Photographs taken by First Mate John Bloomer of the Chatham commercial boat Miss Fitz show the Artemis on its port side, with an automatically-deployed life raft tethered to it. The pictures show extensive damage to the Great Pumpkin.
The Great Pumpkin, Captain Margeson and his crew of two men carried out the rescue before responders could be dispatched, but the Chatham Harbormaster’s office escorted the battered vessel back to the fish pier.
The collision happened about three or four miles southeast of Monomoy Point, in the area of Pollock Rip Channel which is known for its swift currents and thick fog.
The Coast Guard reports that there was zero visibility at the time of the crash.
The Artemis II sank by its stern in 90 feet of water. A salvage company has marked the wreck with a buoy, and a salvage plan is being finalized.
A representative of the Coast Guard’s Marine Safety Detachment is investigating the crash. A spokeswoman at Coast Guard First District Headquarters in Boston said it could be a year or longer before the final findings are issued.
The accident is eerily reminiscent of a 1995 collision in nearly the same location involving two boats, one of which emerged from a fog bank at a high rate of speed and struck the other broadside. Six people were injured in that collision, and one man died as a result of his injuries.