Fisherman rescues survivors of boat sinking
A fisherman brought in an unusual catch this week when he rescued two men who were adrift after their boat sunk off the coast of the island.
Robert Lambe of Last Chance Fisheries – who himself was rescued at sea almost 20 years ago – said yesterday: “It’s a joyful thing when you help someone out in a situation like that.
“Somebody came for me. I’m happy I could come to help somebody else. I’m glad I could do that.”
Mr Lambe said that on Thursday afternoon he was returning home on his boat Last Chance after a day fishing on the Challenger Bank when he received a call from a friend who had seen debris in the water.
“He said he saw a gas container and a cooler,” he said. “I thought it was strange, but maybe it hopped out of someone’s outboard when they were on their way home.
“But my friend said the cooler had bait, ice and drinks in it, so I knew that wasn’t good.
“We looked around for a couple of minutes and we didn’t see anything, so I went to get a stationary mooring and within about an hour I heard someone calling out.
“At that point I knew something wasn’t right. I left the mooring and started heading in the direction of the sound and called Harbour Radio.”
Mr Lambe said after he was unable to find anyone he called Harbour Radio again to get them to direct additional help before it got dark.
“I hadn’t even got off the microphone with him when I saw the person,” he said. “He was about a mile away from me, so I steamed towards him and I saw him, and he had another person with him.
“They were tired. I pulled them into the boat, put them in the cockpit and they thanked me.
“I told them I have been there before. I knew what it feels like. Don’t worry about it. Everyone’s safe now, let’s go home.”
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He said the men had told him that they had begun to head home after their boat began to take on water, but had run out of fuel.
While the men were able to put on life jackets, they were not able to radio for help before their boat sank below the waves.
Bermuda Maritime Operations said in an incident report that it is believed the sunken vessel, the Haley Reed, had sunk sometime between 12.30pm and 1pm.
The report said the marine rescue coordination centre received a call from the Last Chance about what appeared to be someone in the water at about 5.45pm.
“A Royal Bermuda Regiment coastguard vessel to immediately proceed to the scene given the uncertainty of the situation and possible requirement for a marine search,” the report said.
“A few minutes later the Last Chance confirmed locating one individual in the water followed shortly after by the location of a second person swimming nearby.”
The report added that the “very fortunate crew” were not injured in the incident and did not need medical attention.
Mr Lambe said he himself was rescued in 2003 after his 41ft boat was struck by a rogue wave and sank in rough weather about 80 miles northeast of the island.
He survived in the water for 20 hours without a life jacket by clinging onto a piece of wood until he was found by the US Coast Guard.
Mr Lambe was later picked up by the US Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort where he was treated. The ship was on its way to the Persian Gulf at the start of the invasion of Iraq in March 2003
“I was in the middle of the ocean with nothing around, no one to talk to, no life jacket, nothing,” he said. “I was just hoping that the EPIRB went off and someone was going to get you, that a helicopter would come and find you. It’s nice to be on the rescue side of it this time.”