ROCKPORT — There were no reports of injuries when a two-day winter storm socked Cape Ann last week, yet the nor’easter still claimed a victim.
The Nemesis, a 21-foot Novi vessel made in Nova Scotia, sank off T-Wharf in Rockport Harbor sometime late Thursday night or early Friday morning, during the snowstorm. And on Saturday, owner Andy Arnold of Beverly — a commercial scuba diver who salvages sunken boats for a living — led the effort to haul it back to the surface.
Arnold tied air bags to the boat underwater as Ron Zabilski, Arnold’s longtime friend and Beverly neighbor, helped him from the surface, ferrying air tanks and other supplies by skiff.
Rockport lobsterman Steve Budrow, whose boat Margaritaville was moored nearby, arrived to help with the operation. The Margaritaville served as a base of operations, and once Arnold had raised the Nemesis and tied a rope to it, Budrow used a motorized winch to pull the Nemesis alongside the Margaritaville. From there, they finished the salvaging operation.
The bow came out of the water first. When the stern was finally above water, Arnold jumped onboard and immediately started using a bucket to bail out the water.
Arnold said he received a call at 7:30 Friday morning informing him that his boat had sunk.
“Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,” Arnold said of his luck, shaking his head.
Arnold said he had checked the boat Thursday afternoon, and it looked fine. He said he didn’t know how it sank but speculated that the heavy snow weighed the boat down and blocked the scupper holes on the sides of the boat.
Scupper holes, when clear, allow water to drain out. If the scupper holes were blocked, as Arnold guessed, any surf that splashed up onto the boat would be trapped in it, along with the approximately 18 inches of snow that fell during the storm, and weigh the boat down,
On Friday, Arnold received multiple calls from various officials, including the harbormaster’s office and the Coast Guard. He was told that he must have the boat lifted out of the water by noon Saturday because of concerns about fuel leaking into the water.
“There’s not even 5 gallons of fuel in the thing,” Arnold said before the salvage operation began.
The Nemesis was completely submerged most of the day and night, but part of it was visible above water at low tide. With low tide Saturday at 7 a.m., Arnold arrived shortly after that to launch the salvage operation.
Arnold found the boat to be in good shape, though the outboard engine was ruined.
Arnold said that while it’s possible to fix the engine, he probably wouldn’t.
Mike Springer can be reached at 978-675-2711, or at email@example.com.