Town real estate and open space committee says keep Harbormaster Workshop

by William Galvin, Cape Cod Chronicle

HARWICH - (2/18/06) To some residents, the former fire station on Bank Street is an eyesore. To others, the sale of the property is seen as an opportunity to raise needed revenues for town operations. To the Natural Resources Department and Harbormaster it has been a godsend and the loss of this convenient location may seriously impact operations of this department.

The Natural Resources Department and Harbormasters workshop and property serves the needs of 5 different departments and agencies. (Staff photos by Bill Galvin)

Harbormaster Thomas Leach sees the building is an integral part of the operations of the harbor and natural resources departments which he oversees. The town operations task force has recommended taking a close look at the town’s need for the property. “The thought is the prime Bank Street property could be sold by the town to generate revenue and additional tax dollars,” the task force report stated.

Selectmen instructed the real estate and open space committee to look at the inside and outside of the structure and property and to check the deed for any encumbrances. In all, the land encompasses more than nine acres on five separate parcels. Paul Widegren of the real estate and open space committee made a presentation to selectmen on Monday night, concluding the town should keep the property. He told selectmen the three parcels that make up the initial property upon which the fire station sits, totaling 1.63 acres, is upland. But he cautioned the water table is high and the sump pump in the basement of the former station is running constantly.

The two larger parcels to the rear and east of the building have wetlands, he said. He said Conservation Administrator John Chatham has looked at them and there are ditches and borrow pits there. But Chatham said soil tests would be necessary to determine the extent of wetlands. There are several parking spaces on the front parcels designated for the Harwich Conservation Trust used by people who walk the trails along the adjacent trust bogs. Widegren said the trust wishes to continue that arrangement and, if necessary, is willing to purchase a small parcel or an easement.

The property has value both as conservation land and to town departments, Widegren said. “We’re not going to evict the harbormaster,” Selectman Donald Howell said, suggesting money from the sale of the property could be used to build a harbor department facility at the highway department. The sale would provide two benefits: money for the town and additional property on the tax rolls, he said. Task force chairman Angelo LaMantia said relocating the workshop away from the high water table would also be an advantage. He said the department uses paints, gels and gasoline that should be kept away from the groundwater.

Leach said paints and maintenance activity is contained inside the building. The harbormaster said the location is within a mile of the harbor and saves time when employees have to travel back and forth for tools and equipment and perform maintenance tasks. In 1992, Leach said, the shop was moved from the former highway building on Sisson Road to this location when the new fire headquarters was built. It saved a mile and a half driving over and back for tools, Leach said. “To put us in the hinterlands would be a mistake,” Leach said of locating a workshop on Queen Anne Road. “The closer to the harbor the better.”

Leach said the former station has storage upstairs and work spaces below. But the additional parking spaces also serve people who bring boats to the harbor and purchase weekly stickers and need to store their trailer. This location is close enough for them and it does not clog the harbor parking lot.

Selectman Larry Cole called the building an “unattractive eyesore located in a nice neighborhood.” Cole inquired about the proceeds from such a sale, suggesting they would be more than enough to build another workshop. “If we can add to the tax rolls, I’d like to see what the net benefits are,” Cole said.

Widegren said the only access to the rear parcels is through the front property. Putting on his real estate agent’s hat, Widegren said if a cul de sac was built for three lots they might bring $450,000 each. Selectmen agreed they should move forward on dual tracks, looking at the wetland issues to determine how much upland is available and whether there is a better location for a harbor department workshop.

There is the potential Town Engineer Joseph Borgesi could make these determinations, but selectmen agreed it would likely require soil borings and examination of vegetative species. Town Administrator Wayne Melville said funds for consulting advice could come from either the finance committee reserve fund or an article in the special town meeting. “The conservation commission is central to the issue of whether these lots can be developed,” Melville said. Selectmen voted to research the wetland issues and costs associated with making such determinations.

Cape Cod Chronicle 2/16/06

Winter’s work: Harwich Harbormaster, staff keep busy in off-season


by Doug Karlson, Harwich Oracle


Harbormaster Tom Leach repairs some buoys Thursday. (Staff photos by Merrily Lunsford)
HARWICH PORT - (01/18/05) Tom Leach and his staff at the harbormaster’s office are quick to knock wood when they comment on how mild a winter the Cape has experienced. Often, at this time of year, three or four inches of ice covers Saquatucket Harbor, clutching and clawing at its vital underpinnings. Its grip must be broken quickly, chopped away by hand, if necessary, before the rising and falling tide works the pilings loose. "There have been winters where we’re chopping ice twice a day," said assistant harbormaster Heinz Proft. The staff of the harbormaster’s office is helped in their exertions by a bubbler system. It’s a 40-horsepower air compressor that forces air through a system of pipes that lie on the bottom of the harbor. Air bubbles are released beneath the docks, creating an upflow that carries warmer, saltier water from the bottom to the colder, fresher water on the surface. That softens the ice, and protects the pilings, explained Leach.

Keeping the all-important bubbler system in good working order in the dead of winter can be a challenge. It has hundreds of valves and connections and, according to Leach, "it’s sort of like a set of Christmas tree lights, when one goes out, they all go out." But the bubbler system is only 85 percent effective, said Leach. When he and his staff see ice start to form around any of the pilings, they throw on their winter coats and gloves and start chopping. "Basically, we have to drop everything we’re doing. You go for what’s going to be destroyed first." He estimates they’ve saved hundred of thousands of dollars over the years by chopping ice from the harbor’s 295 pilings, each of which can cost between $800 and $1,400 to replace. In 1978 the harbor lost 35 pilings. In the cold winter two years ago, Leach said they lost two or three. Luckily there’s been none of that this year. Not yet anyway. Knock on wood.

The winter chores
Though Commander, the harbormaster’s patrol boat, is fueled and ready to go in an emergency, the staff at the harbormaster’s department spend most of the winter indoors catching up on paperwork and other chores. That includes annual budgets, mooring permit renewals, updating the department’s 17 boat slip and mooring waiting lists, grant applications, sending out annual dockage bills, shellfish patrols, and maintenance. Leach is also preparing applications for six dredging permits to the state and the US Army Corps of Engineers.

"For me the winter is when I get all caught up," said Michelle Morris, who works in the office. "It’s quiet traffic-wise but I’m busy." Morris tackles one project after another, working her way through permit renewals, dock and mooring assignments, off-loading permits, and the like. She uses special marina management software that keeps track of all the town’s boat slips and moorings to help her do her job.

Leach also finds time to maintain his website, which he reports gets up to 200 hits a day. He said the public uses the website to communicate with the department, to check waiting lists, make reservations, and buy shellfish permits. "It’s time well spent because it’s generating business for us," he explained. There are also public speaking engagements at schools and civic organizations, and government meetings to set regulations and budgets. Winter is also the time to repair channel markers and other buoys. The work is currently being done by Alex Sherr, a cadet from the Massachusetts Maritime Academy who’s on a six-week work/study project with the harbormaster’s office. Buildings need shingling, docks need new planks and fittings, the shellfish lab must be dismantled and repaired, and boats must be winterized. The department is finishing an upgrade of the marina’s electrical and plumbing system, some of which is being done by staff. Because there are far fewer helpers in the winter (employee Larry Chandler is still recovering from injuries he received after being struck by a car last fall), Proft and Leach must often help one another to perform a wide variety of tasks. One is the annual cleanup of the Herring River, a task that the department is required to complete by April 15. Given the wind storm of Dec. 9, Leach expects that task to be a hard one this year, and hopes to enlist the aid of AmeriCorps in clearing fallen trees and sandbars from the river.

For Proft, it’s the time to analyze the water quality and shellfish data that’s collected over the winter, and to plan the sampling program for the following season. "It’s just as busy but in a different gear," Proft said in an interview from his small second-floor office overlooking Saquatucket Harbor. Curiously, Proft explained that from January through March there’s actually more shellfish patrols than in the summer. That’s because in the winter, recreational shellfishermen can harvest seven days a week, allowing them to take advantage of fair weather, compared to twice a week in the summer, and four days a week in the spring. Proft does regular inspections checking quantities, quality and permits.

Given the mild winter, the employees of the harbormaster’s office hope they’ll be caught up with their work and ready for a busy boating season. But of course, the winter’s not over, and it’s too soon to put away the shovels and ice choppers just yet.

In Surprise Move, Chatham Selectmen Slash Harbormaster’s Budget


Chatham Harbormaster Stuart Smith has implied a 15% cut in his department budget was in retaliation for some of his policy decisions.

by Alan Pollock

            CHATHAM — (01/19/06) Citing a host of concerns about the growth of the harbormaster’s department and its power, selectmen recommended cutting that budget by 15 percent Tuesday.  The surprise 3-2 vote seemed to leave town officials stunned.

            “I feel like I’ve been mugged,” Harbormaster Stuart Smith said.

            During a discussion of the fiscal 2007 operating budget, Selectman Sean Summers challenged the need for both a coastal resources department and a harbormaster’s department.  He questioned the need for a second, part-time Lighthouse Beach patrol employee, and challenged the department’s construction of a mooring barge.  Between fiscal 2002 to 2006, the harbormaster’s department salary line item increased by 85 percent, Summers said.

            Selectman Ronald Bergstrom agreed, and blasted Harbormaster Stuart Smith for seeking continued funding of a full-time mooring officer, saying the town has made inadequate progress in revamping its mooring system since the position was created.

            Summers read from figures he said he collected from various surrounding towns showing drastically lower harbormaster’s budgets in communities like Harwich, Nantucket and Falmouth.  Even combined with its shellfish department, he said Orleans has a harbormaster’s budget which is “100 percent” smaller than Chatham’s.    

            “To all who us who see this report, it’s pretty amazing,” Connors said of Summers’ figures.  Connors said she knows an even comparison between towns isn’t possible for any number of reasons, “but the numbers aren’t even close,” she said.  The Chatham harbormaster’s department is seeking a $449,285 budget in fiscal 2007.

            Summers moved that the harbormaster’s budget be slashed by 25 percent, or $112,321. 

            “I don’t think safety would be one bit harmed by this measure,” Summers said.  A number of fishermen were present in the gallery at the meeting.  Fisherman Matt Linnell said the Harbormaster’s budget is out of control, and said he supports the 25 percent cut.

            “I think it should be even more,” Linnell said.

            Smith told the board the evening was a harsh lesson in local politics.  Smith implied that the budget cut was in retaliation for some of his policy decisions.

            Speaking to the budget increases, Town Manager William Hinchey said every increase has happened with the blessing of the board of selectmen and town meeting, with the goal of improving services.

            “That’s how budgets grow.  If the budget has grown 85 percent, it hasn’t snuck up on anybody,” Hinchey said.

            Selectman David Whitcomb said he is comfortable with the budget, and favors a policy of reinvesting in the town’s infrastructure.  Whitcomb challenged Bergstrom for saying he supports mooring improvements, while suggesting that the mooring officer’s position be removed from the budget.

            While she said the harbormaster’s budget deserves further review, Selectman Douglas Ann Bohman said she would prefer to learn the ramifications of a budget cut before recommending it.

            When Connors balked at Summers’ proposed 25 percent reduction, Summers amended his motion to reflect a 15 percent cut, or $67,393, and the measure passed on a 3-2 vote.   Bohman and Whitcomb dissented.  Selectmen opted to postpone voting on the overall operating budget until they could hear about the revised harbormaster’s budget from Hinchey and Smith. 

            Summers and Bergstrom said they have heard complaints from a significant number of constituents about the harbormaster’s mooring management policies and law enforcement practices. 

            “I don’t want to be too blunt about it, but the harbor patrol is universally loathed in this community,” Bergstrom said.

            Last summer, Summers said he was treated rudely by an assistant harbormaster who claimed he was boating too close to the swimmers at Lighthouse Beach.  Summers said he has been inundated with comments about harbormaster’s department employees overstepping their authority, and questioned “the husbanding of authority within the department without any checks and balances.”

Chatham Waterways Committee To Scrutinize Mooring Barge Costs

CHATHAM — (2/2/06) On a 4-2 vote Monday afternoon, the Waterways Advisory Committee rejected a bid to halt construction of the harbormaster’s new mooring barge. But under pressure from members of the board of selectmen, the committee will be scrutinizing the costs and benefits of the project. Harbormaster Stuart Smith told the panel that the barge was approved as a capital expenditure at the 2002 annual town meeting, which appropriated $20,000 for construction of the hull. The vessel, which is nearing completion, is 30 feet in length with a 14-foot beam. It will be outfitted with an aluminum Gallis frame and various winches.

The purpose of the barge, Smith said, is to allow the town to more efficiently remove illegal and abandoned moorings, to service buoys, and to repair broken pilings and install floating docks, many projects “that we now have to contract out.” Smith said, over time, the barge will save taxpayers money. “I think that the barge quickly pays for itself,” Smith said.

The project has been opposed by those who say it could be used to service moorings, something currently done by private business owners. Waterways Advisory Committee member Edward Conway, who owns Chatham Mooring Services, recused himself from Monday’s meeting but remained in the gallery to listen. “We’re not going to be in the mooring servicing business,” Smith said. “We wouldn’t even be capable of it, frankly.”

But the main criticism of the project Monday was its expense. Smith provided the committee with an estimate of funds spent on the project, totaling around $31,000, less the rent paid on the commercial bay where the barge is being built. Committee member David Davis said the barge’s price tag is actually much larger, given the cost of hydraulic equipment and electronics. Davis said the figure also doesn’t account for the time Mooring Officer Wayne Julin spent building the craft, or for various pieces of workshop equipment purchased during the construction process. Davis also said the cost of the project would jump by as much as $20,000 if the town loses a legal challenge with Chatham Welding. That company was originally hired to build the barge, but Smith said the town took possession of several pieces of the hull having determined that “the quality of work was well, well below standard.” The town attorney is currently in negotiations with the attorney representing Chatham Welding about the disposition of the contract. “If he was due the money, we would’ve paid him,” Smith said.

Committee Chairman Bob Hamblet said the group was not well apprised on the barge project, and was completely unaware of another capital expenditure, a replacement patrol boat. Smith said that expenditure, to replace an aging 22-foot boat, was shelved when the bid figures came back higher than expected. Smith said the committee is welcome to take part in such discussions, but Hamblet said that isn’t possible if the committee isn’t aware of it beforehand. “This committee, historically, has not gotten into the day-to-day operations of this department,” Smith said. “I think that’s going to change, Stuart,” Davis said.

Hamblet said a member of the board of selectmen specifically asked him to have the waterways committee vote on whether or not the barge project should continue, but committee members resisted, saying they need more detailed information about the project’s cost. “We need a cost-benefit analysis of some kind,” member Stephen King said. Davis made a motion advising the harbormaster to halt construction of the barge until financial information is available, but that motion failed on a 4-2 vote, with Davis and Hamblet the lone supporters. Smith agreed to provide the financial information as soon as possible. The next regular meeting of the waterways advisory committee is Feb. 13.

Chatham May Sell Incomplete Mooring Barge

CHATHAM - (03/09/06) Work has halted on the town’s 90 percent complete mooring barge. The steel-hulled vessel will remain drydocked behind the harbormaster’s workshop on Stage Harbor Road until officials decide what to do with it. Last week, selectmen voted to halt construction on the barge and to use contract services for the work that the vessel was slated to do. The board also cut more than $48,000 from the harbormaster department’s budget.

The barge was to be used to remove illegal and improperly placed moorings, to install and replace pilings and install a new mooring grid in Stage Harbor. Initially authorized in 2001 with a $20,000 appropriation in the capital budget, the barge has grown in cost to more than $77,000, and will cost another $11,000 in parts and labor to complete. Selectman Sean Summers, who led the drive to stop construction on the barge and reduce the harbormaster’s budget, wants the town to sell the vessel, even though he doesn’t think it will bring more than $25,000, three-quarters of its cost. “You don’t throw good money after bad,” Summers said Tuesday.

The implications of the board’s actions last week go beyond the barge, Harbormaster Stuart Smith said. In an interview Monday, Smith questioned whether the board of selectmen can delve into individual department budgets and remove items that were previously approved by town meeting. He called the recent episode “politics at its ugliest.” “I didn’t realize the board of selectmen can undue the will of town meeting,” he said, noting that the mooring officer, whose salary was sliced in half, and the mooring barge were both included in budgets approved by town meeting. Smith, who served on the town’s charter commission and charter review committee, said the home-rule document clearly gives final budget authority to town meeting. Town Manager William Hinchey sees no conflict, however. “The board of selectmen certainly has the authority to give me direction, and that’s what they did,” he said.

Summers, too, doesn’t think there’s a conflict. The barge, he said, was authorized in 2001, and the project has clearly run into problems. “I think the townspeople expect the selectmen to intervene and ask questions when a project has not been initiated five years after the authorization, with expenditures nearly four fold what we were told,” he said. Summers also asserted that a barge to do the necessary work could be purchased for less than what the town has invested in constructing its own, custom-made vessel, and that the annual cost of contracting out the services the barge would provide would be less costly than the yearly operating expenses of the vessel, including an operator. “There’s really no justification for a full-time staff member and the barge,” he said, referring to the mooring officer, who has been responsible for construction of the vessel and was to be in charge of its operation. “The numbers don’t work.”

It may take a vote of town meeting to sell the barge. Hinchey said he will have to consult the town’s charter, and possibly Town Counsel Bruce Gilmore, to determine if he has the authority to dispose of town property. If the barge is to be sold, its value may determine if town meeting authorization is necessary, he added. There may also be a town meeting fight over the harbormaster’s budget. At last week’s board of selectmen’s meeting, former waterways committee chairman Richard Miller warned if the board cut the budget, “you’ll hear about it on town meeting floor.” “That’s what town meeting is for,” Summers said this week. If the issue does come up for debate, and the three board members who voted for the cut outline their reasons, he believes voters will support the reduction.

Whatever happens, Smith said his department will “do what we can with the monies we’re given.” However, the mooring management program, endorsed by previous boards of selectmen and recommended in the Stage Harbor management plan and subsequent South Coastal management plan, “is not going to be as comprehensive as it was,” he cautioned.

Artificial Fishing Reef Proposed Off Harwich Shoreline

by William F. Galvin

HARWICH - (3/9/06) State officials are examining placement of an artificial fishing reef off the shoreline in Nantucket Sound. Funding for preliminary study has been approved and additional monies could be voted within the month for detailed surveys. “It’s preliminary, but the train is running and we’re meeting regularly and Harwich is providing us with information on the best sites,” Kristin Decas, deputy director and program coordinator for the Governor’s Seaport Advisory Council, said on Tuesday. Decas said the concept was initiated by Clem Kacergis, owner of the Yankee, a head boat operated out of Saquatucket Harbor. She said Paul Donovan, owner of the Golden Eagle, which operates out of Wychmere Harbor, has also been active in pursuing this initiative.

Decas said Kacergis recognized the success of the artificial reef developed off Yarmouth in the 1970s and began pushing two years ago for a reef to be constructed off Harwich. Kacergis is in Florida until April and could not be reached for comment. Donovan also could not be reached for comment on Tuesday. While the proposal is in preliminary stages, Decas said a year ago the Seaport Advisory Council approved $10,000 from the Seaport bond bill to leverage the project. They are now poised to meet in April to vote another $40,000 to conduct survey work to determine the most appropriate location for the reef.

The funds will be applied to both the Harwich and Yarmouth reef locations. An upgrade of the Yarmouth reef is under consideration. Decas said she has been working with Mark Rousseau of the Artificial Reef Program within the division of marine fisheries, and Vincent Malkoski, also of the division of marine fisheries, on this proposal. Rousseau said they have been putting together a description for site selection work.

Artificial fishing reefs are not uncommon in this state. Rousseau said there are four in place, off Yarmouth, Dartmouth, Long Island in Boston Harbor and a new one in Boston Harbor for habitat displaced by the gas pipeline laid there. The fisheries biologist said the reefs are designed to attract sports fish, but he admitted it is hard to tell how well they work because the agency does not have the money to monitor the reefs. Rousseau said they are working on obtaining money for that purpose. He said the type of fish drawn to a reef varies by location. The Yarmouth reef draws scup and a reef south of the Cape might draw tautog.

Decas said after discussing the proposal with the town, it was agreed the best strategy is to have the project implemented through the division of marine fisheries. Natural Resources Officer Thomas Leach said he agreed with that approach, explaining the reef would be located in state waters. Leach said no location for the reef has been decided at this point, but he added it would be outside the offshore bar in a depth of 24 to 30 feet of water a mile to a mile-and-a-half south of the shoreline. Leach said a steering committee has been meeting periodically on the proposal, including a session two weeks ago in Fairhaven. “This’ll be a popular place for small-boat fishing,” Leach said of fish that gather to inhabit areas in and around such reefs.

The reef off Yarmouth in Nantucket Sound has served as a popular place for sport fishing. Decas said they approved $2,000 for reef improvements there in 1998. On March 1, 2005, $10,000 was approved for survey work for improvements to Yarmouth and to study the viability of a new site in Harwich. The additional $40,000 would be for biological studies. The Yarmouth reef was built from used tires, but Decas said there have been some problems with individual tires washing up on beaches in some areas. Leach said that has been the case in rougher oceans waters along the North Carolina shoreline.

There are many ways to build these reefs, including scuttling old fishing vessels and old tires. Decas said the division of marine fisheries is developing a statewide policy for such structures through its artificial reef program. Rousseau such a policy would cover material used, a brief history of reef projects and the permitting process necessary to construct them. Leach said this will not be a situation where people bring their junk to the harbor and throw it into the water. He said some reefs are constructed of precast concrete domes with holes through it for fish to swim. “That’s what they’re leaning toward and not some old school bus dropped there.” Leach said. “Tires are easy to work with, but it doesn’t sound like the division of marine fisheries has an interest in that.”

There are questions of permitting, especially with the proposal falling within the Nantucket Sound Marine Sanctuary. Decas said surveys will help to define the best location for an artificial reef. She said the division of marine fisheries would work on permitting the structure. There have been changes in regulatory and environmental permitting for reef construction, she said. But Decas pointed out the division of marine fisheries would not construct something that would upset the fisheries; they’d be doing whatever can be done to benefit the fisheries.

While the remainder of the planning funds is anticipated to be approved in the April Seaport Advisory Council session, Decas said there is no money available at this point to construct the fish reef. “We’ll have to be resourceful,” she said. The Seaport deputy director said there are some grant programs available and monies could come from a fisheries grant or the Seaport bond bill. Decas estimated the cost of the structure to be between $50,000 and $500,000.

Rousseau said it is not likely a reef will be in place within a year. It could take several years depending upon the permitting process.

Dragger grounds and sinks at Coast Guard Beach, Maine crew survives odds in dangerous swim

EASTHAM - (3/27/06) EASTHAM - Two Maine fishermen escaped with their lives early yesterday morning after their ship ran aground in the cold, pounding surf at Coast Guard Beach.The two-man crew on the Josephine, a 40-foot scalloper, left home port in Stonington, Maine, at 9:30 a.m. Sunday headed for Stage Harbor in Chatham.

Wreck of the Josephine Tuesday morining. Crew fatigue may have played a role in the vessel grounding and distruction.
They were 19 hours into the trip, with the boat sometimes steered by an automatic course device and sometimes by hand, the two men told rescue officials, when they ran up on a sandbar. The skipper was Ian Orchard, 32, of Stonington. ''He fell asleep,'' vessel owner Bert Hall, 52, guessed. ''He should have been way out there,'' he said, gesturing to the horizon line. Hall is Orchard's stepfather. He had walked down to the beach with Coast Guard and National Park Service officials yesterday morning to survey the remains of his vessel. There wasn't much to see. By midmorning, hardly anything was left of the Josephine. The surf had splintered the boat into pieces - the biggest was 10 feet by 10 feet. The smell of diesel lingered near the wreck on the Cape Cod National Seashore beach. The National Park Service brought a front-end loader down to clean up the debris. As the boat owner, Hall was responsible for cleanup costs.

At a briefing yesterday morning, Coast Guard and other officials stressed they didn't yet know exactly what had happened, but that fatigue may have been a factor. The Coast Guard is investigating the grounding. A mandatory alcohol test turned up negative for both men. Results were still pending on a drug test. At 4:15 a.m. Orchard, of Stonington, Maine, issued a Mayday to the Coast Guard that included coordinates pinpointing his location. The vessel then went broadside to the 6- to 8-foot breakers and rolled completely over, officials said. There was no time to don survival suits. Orchard and crewman Michael Darragh, 34, of East Orland, Maine, jumped into the 38-degree water. They swam for shore, which was a few hundred feet away but was being pounded by heavy surf. Orchard told police it took him 20 minutes to reach land. Coast Guard's Chatham station dispatched a 32-foot and a 44-foot rescue boat within 12 minutes of the distress call. A Coast Guard helicopter from Air Station Cape Cod was on the way an hour after the call. Rescue personnel and police from Orleans, Truro, Wellfleet and Eastham assisted in the search for the two men, which included four-wheel-drive vehicles prowling the beach.

At 4:20 a.m., Eastham police Sgt. Robert Schnitzer's spotlight found Darragh wandering on the beach. Schnitzer said Darragh was barely able to speak from the cold. An Eastham rescue vehicle took him to Cape Cod Hospital, suffering from hypothermia. Schnitzer then found a small pug that had been on the boat and swam to shore. His paws were bloody and he had diesel oil in his fur. Eastham rescue personnel warmed him up and took him to a 24-hour veterinary hospital in Dennis. For the next few hours, there was no sign of Orchard as rescuers combed the beach, Coast Guard boats the sea, and the helicopter searched from above. The wind was strong onshore, and the air cold.

At 8:20 a.m., rescuers did a second search of the old Coast Guard station that sits on a hill directly above where the vessel went aground. Schnitzer said he saw that a window on the front of the building was broken and yelled inside. A few minutes later, Orchard appeared, wrapped in a curtain. He told Schnitzer he had been in the station for a few hours, had turned up the heat, fallen asleep from exhaustion, and then taken a shower to try to get warm. The former Coast Guard station is owned by the National Park Service and is used only for educational groups, who sometimes stay overnight. The building was unoccupied at the time, but the heat and hot water were still on. Orchard was also treated for hypothermia at Cape Cod Hospital. Both men were released by midday yesterday. They declined a request for an interview and left the hospital through a back door.

Despite a slight smell of diesel fuel in the air, there was no evidence of a slick. Park Service officials said no cleanup was necessary because whatever fuel did spill evaporated after it was broken up by the wave action. Hall said he and his stepson had fished off Chatham for the past three or four years. He was nearly to Harwich, driving to Chatham from Maine to meet the vessel, when he received a call from his wife that the Josephine had foundered and there was a search for survivors. Small scallop vessels, known as general category scallopers, are allowed 400 pounds of scallop meat a day. With scallop prices paid to fisherman at $9 to $10 per pound, there is money to be made, and many Maine fishermen have been making the long trip to live and fish on Georges Bank and the adjacent waters off Chatham. ''There's nothing left up there,'' said Hall, of Maine scallop beds. ''It's been pounded and pounded for years.'' But there's not much left for Hall, his family and crew this year.

Crewman Larry Rotta, who was driving to Chatham with Hall, also surveyed the wreckage on the beach. ''He's out $50,000 (for the boat),'' Rotta said. He said Hall had bought the Josephine in Canada this year to fish off Cape Cod. He said Hall had just canceled his boat insurance because he couldn't afford the payments of $1,700 a month. Rotta said they would probably have to go back to Canada to buy another boat, and that bankruptcy was a possibility. But Hall wasn't thinking about money yesterday. ''You can replace a boat, but you can't bring someone back from the dead,'' he said.

Doug Fraser can be reached at dfraser@capecodonline.com.
(Published: March 28, 2006)