At Cashman Park yesterday in hopes of somehow helping, Crowley said he got a call from Decker's call phone last night at 8:40, but he wasn't aware of it until this morning.
Ipswich resident Sally Thomson, another friend of Decker, was also at Cashman Park. She'd received a call from the Coast Guard because they found her phone number on Decker's cellphone.
"He's a sweet man," Thomson said. "He lived with me for a year. He was living in his mobile home and he kept it at my place. When it got too cold for the mobile home, he came inside."
After selling the motor home and buying the sailboat, Decker lived on the boat, which was actually moored in at Crowley's mooring on the Salisbury side of the river.
By 3 yesterday afternoon, Howard said the circumstances weren't in Decker's favor. The swamped dingy, the water temperature, the number of hours Decker had been missing and likely in the river, and the fact that the tide had turned and was heading back out to sea all led him to believe the situation would not turn out well.
"The reality is that this is a search and recovery mission," Howard said.