Harwich Harbormasters Rescue Runaway Jetskiers

(Saturday, 8/12/00)

Two jetskiers were rescued Saturday afternoon as their personal watercraft drifted away in heavy seas off of Bass River.

Harwich Assistant Harbormaster Jim Sullivan and Scott Lasky, harbor assistant at about 4:30 PM while on routine patrol came upon two men swimming furiously after their runaway jetsky. It was a nor'easter blowing about 15-25 kts and seas about 2-4 foot in Nantucket Sound.

Small craft flags were posted so there was almost no traffic out as the harbormasters decided to continue patrol pass Herring River toward Bass River to refamiliarize themselves with Dennisport waters before turning back for home.

As they passed about 1/2 mile offshore of "Bombers Island" (the rock pile 1/3 mile off of West Dennis Beach) they noticed a Personal Watercraft that was adrift in the waves. As they approached to investigate they saw there was no rider. Looking upwind, Lasky spotted two gray heads in wetsuits bobbing in the waves about 200 feet upwind attempting frantically to swim after the machine as it drifted away faster than they were able to paddle. Usually a jetski will stop dead or circle when a rider falls off due to a safety lanyard and kill switch system. But the wind and waves were too much shoving the vessel down wind like a drifting rubber swim raft, too fast for even a strong swimmer to catch up with in the white caps of the blow.

The harbor patrol signaled them to stay put as they collected the PWC and towed it back upwind to the duo and the Harbormasters held the machine near the boat as the jetskier and passenger presumably in their fifties boarded and got control of the PWC once again. In the energy of the moment no names were exchanged but they made a mental note of the registration number before the machine head West after a flurry of thank yous and COMMANDER turned its course back east toward Saquatucket Harbor.

The registration number failed to gain a hit through the EPO records. Presumably because it was so new. So the two riders for the time being remain nameless for the Harbormasters Office. However, it is a safe assumption that the two lives may have been saved Saturday afternoon from drifting toward Martha's Vineyard or worse.