Most cellphones would not work after getting wet, he said.
Although McHugh questioned going out in such a small boat in the winter, he praised Polan’s decision-making.
“He stayed with the boat, which was advisable,” he said. “He was way too far out to swim anywhere.”
Most of the boat was underwater by the time the Salem crew arrived. The only thing visible was the centerboard.
Asked if other boaters would have spotted the capsized sailor, McHugh said it was unlikely since most of the commercial fishermen were in port.
The Beverly harbormaster heard the mayday call and also responded.
The Salem crew, which had to go to Congress Street, where their boat is kept in winter, was first on the scene. They were able to find him quickly from the radio signal.
“He’s extremely lucky that everything went his way,” McHugh said.
Tom Dalton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.