On Sunday morning, the crew of the Endorphin was busy on the back deck of the 58-foot longliner packing out a trip of tilefish at the Inlet Seafood Dock in Montauk. A large seal drawn to the boat by the fishy hose water pouring from Endorphin’s scuppers kept poking his head out of the water looking for a handout.
It was a normal-looking scene except for the fact that Endorphin had arrived the night before after being towed by a Coast Guard cutter from the edge of Atlantis Canyon where it had lost power two days earlier. It had taken 20 hours to traverse the 86 miles to Endorphin’s homeport.
“Don’t believe what you read,” Capt. Bob Fallon said, going on to explain that contrary to early reports, the crew had plenty of food and was able to communicate by radio.
Nonetheless, he said, it was good to see the cutter. Endorphin’s main engine had failed on Friday morning in heavy seas, and with the winter storm that was barreling across the Midwest due to push offshore the next day. The Coast Guard’s sector Long Island Sound received a mayday Friday morning from a “good Samaritan” vessel nearby and dispatched the Boston-based cutter Tahoma. The cutter arrived on the scene Friday night. A Coast Guard helicopter dropped food and a back-up radio the next day.
By coincidence, Capt. Ed Cubanski, commander of Sector Long Island Sound, was at the Montauk Firehouse Friday night to present commendations to Senior Chief Jason Walter and the personnel at the Montauk Coast Guard Station under his command, as well as members of Montauk’s commercial and recreational fishing fleet for their efforts in the rescue of John Aldridge last summer.
Mr. Aldridge had fallen from the Anna Mary during the early morning hours of July 24. He was found clinging to longline float buoys after a 12-hour search led by Coast Guard helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft in cooperation with members of the Montauk fishing community.
Cmdr. Jonathan Theel, who had overseen the 1,100-square-mile search for the lobsterman in July, was also on hand at the Montauk Firehouse on Friday and spoke of the Montauk fishing community’s invaluable assistance in the operation.
Mr. Aldridge told Coast Guard personnel, “It was an overwhelming experience. I thank you for being there for me,” and turning to the audience he said, “we are all here for each other. Let’s go fishing.”
Anthony Sosinski, who awoke to find his partner gone from the boat on July 24, said, “The government is not always our friend, but the Coast Guard is. We felt helpless. It’s an emotional thing. You are amazing.”
Captain Cubanski thanked the East End Task Force that included the East Hampton Town Marine Patrol for covering for the Coast Guard during the res cue. “We are all professional mariners. It’s a team effort,” he said.
As the commendations were being handed out, the Tahoma began towing Endorphin. Nearly 20 hours later, one of Montauk’s two 47-foot motor lifeboats took over the tow and brought Endorphin through the Montauk Harbor jetties at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday.
Petty Officer Brian Jiunta, a member of the motor lifeboat crew, said it was unusual for the Coast Guard to tow a disabled vessel. “There are companies like Sea Tow that do that, but there are circumstances,” he said, such as distance, that were mitigating factors this time. Commercial towers do not go 80 miles offshore. Distance made Endorphin’s predicament a rescue operation, especially given the weather forecast.
On Dec. 8, the crew of the Montauk Coast Guard’s 47-foot ocean lifeboat rescued Clinton Seyler after his 37-foot commercial fishing boat sank. Mr. Seyler was spotted clinging to a flotation device a few miles off Montauk Point by a birdwatcher just before sunset.