5 rescued after boat collision, capsizing

Five people were rescued early Saturday afternoon after the boat they were in overturned at the mouth of the Merrimack River. They were assisted and pulled from the water by other boaters from The Captain’s Lady and the Newburyport Harbormaster, according to Coast Guard in Newburyport. Marc Gillette courtesy photo

SALISBURY — Five people were rescued just after noon on Saturday after the boat they were in capsized after colliding with another boat at the mouth of the Merrimack River, an area known for treacherous currents that is difficult to navigate at times.

Coast Guard officials said the 21-foot Jenna Marie overturned after colliding with the 58-foot Captain George on the river between Salisbury and Newburyport. Both vessels were charter boats.

The five people from the Jenna Marie were assisted and pulled from the water by other boaters from The Captain's Lady and the Newburyport harbormaster, according to the Coast Guard.

The names of those involved were not immediately available from the Coast Guard.

No one was seriously injured although an ambulance was waiting nearby as a precaution, according to Coast Guard officials.

Area boaters have said the water at the mouth of the Merrimack River can get choppy and unstable due to convergence of the river’s current, the tides, an underwater sandbar and the wind.

The combination can create enormous swells, and boats are known to sometimes strike the bottom when passing over the sandbar.

Also, wakes from large boats can roil the surface between the north and south jetties.

Coast Guard officials previously said large vessels sometimes produce large wakes when they enter the area around the sandbar, especially during an ebb tide.

In June 2017, a Lowell man drowned after the boat he and another man were in capsized in high seas and wind near the north jetty in Salisbury. One man swam to the rocks and was rescued that day but the other man drowned. His body was recovered on Salisbury Beach several days later. 

At the time of that capsizing and the search by local harbormasters, police and the U.S. Coast Guard, officials said winds were gusting to 20 mph out of the northeast and there were 8- to 10-foot seas. 

Follow staff reporter Jill Harmacinski on Twitter @EagleTribJill.

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