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Friday, September 15, 2006

An event off Cape Elizabeth, Maine

The following is a news item this morning on the website of WMTW TV Station entitled “Recovery Mission Continues off Cape Elizabeth”:
CAPE ELIZABETH, Maine -- A state police dive team, the Cape Elizabeth wet team and the Maine Marine Patrol returned to McKenney Point in Cape Elizabeth on Friday morning to resume their search for a missing lobsterman who disappeared Wednesday when his boat capsized after being hit by a rogue wave.
A crewman on the lobster boat said he was trapped in the overturned vessel at first, but survived after finding an air pocket in the engine room.
Chip Currier and his crewmate, Lance Smith, were finally able to swim to safety after Wednesday's incident. But the skipper, Steve Smith, was still missing after a Coast Guard rescue effort turned into a recovery mission on Thursday.
Officials said they don't believe anyone could survive for long in the cold water.
The Coast Guard suspended its efforts to locate Smith on Thursday.
The April Lee was struck by a wave that might have been kicked up by the remnants of Hurricane Florence late Wednesday morning. Currier, 22, said was hauling traps alongside Smith, 50, and his son when the wave hit.
Currier told News 8, "Waves breaking on one side of us, no waves on the other -- we thought we were really safe. Steve would never put anybody in harm's way. Never, ever would think that this would happen. This was a freak accident that just couldn't be avoided."
Smith kept his 38-foot lobster boat at the Spring Point Marina next to a cabin cruiser on which he and his wife spent summers. Friends said Smith loved the water and practically lived on it.
Another report from the local news paper give some further details of the event:
Steve Smith had just maneuvered his 38-foot lobster boat into what looked like calm waters off McKenney Point on Wednesday morning when what looked like a 16-foot wall of water hit him broadside, said a surviving member of his crew.
The rogue wave flipped the April Lee on top of sternman Charles Currier of Hollis and swept fellow crew member Lance Smith away from shore.

Searchers tried in vain Thursday to determine what happened to Steve Smith, the boat's captain, who disappeared when the wave struck.
We earnestly pray for the skipper’s safe return. Boats, large or small, are facing this kind of hazards daily. The WMTW reporter theorizes this event as due to the remnants of Hurricane Florence, which is plausible. But for nearshore or shallow bay areas, freaque waves can sometimes also be generated by large ships passing nearby out in the deep ocean. That does not seem to be the case here.

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