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Dramatic rescue at sea in Trinity Bay Saturday night

The speedboat towing the broken down vessel.
The speedboat towing the broken down vessel.

By Mark Squibb and Jonathan Parsons The Packet   TRINITY BAY, N.L. — Fisherman Sam Lambert of Southport received the call from his son Orbison late Saturday night, Sept. 16.

There was word of a vessel in distress in Trinity Bay. Orbison had heard from Sterling Stacey of Little Heart’s Ease about the boat.

Lambert immediately headed down to the wharf to meet up with his son, and they were soon joined by Stacey and his son, Trent.

They jumped aboard Lambert's longliner, The Southport Rider 1, and headed out to sea.

The group began to search in the northeast direction, when Orbison managed to reach the stranded men on his cellphone. They were heading in the wrong direction.

There was some confusion over the boat’s actual location.

While the fishermen, in nautical navigation terms, thought they might be “down the bay,” they were actually towards the Sunnyside side of Gooseberry Cove.

The people in the boat in distress said they were “half a dozen mile below Gooseberry Cove,” by which they meant, south of.

Lambert and the others took that as towards Random Island.

Throw in spotty cell service and a broken radio on the vessel in distress, which added to the confusion. They even had an error with the reading of coordinates of the actual location.

Once contacted, the stranded vessel was actually about 35-40 kilometres opposite from their current location, and was suffering from transmission issues. They gathered the boat was headed from Trinity to Sunnyside and broke down.

"(We) knew then we had our night cut out for us," reads Lambert's Facebook post recounting the adventure.

It was about 4 a.m. by the time the boat was ready to tow to calmer waters.

After an hour steering in the southwest direction, they finally spotted a light, "just a glimmer far ahead."

The boat looked to be six or seven miles away. After half an hour, they could spot the vessel in their binoculars. It was a pleasure boat.

“They were some glad to see us,” Lambert told the Packet in a phone conversation. “I would be too. They were pretty anxious.”

The boat was drifting within less than a quarter of mile of the rocks by the time the longliner arrived.

“I cannot project what would or would not have happened, but it did not look good.”

When they reached the boat, they could only safely get within 100 feet due to the rough sea. The longliner was using its stabilizers with winds almost 50 kilometres per hour.

“Out there in the night with a breeze of wind and the swells, you can’t get alongside of a boat,” said Lambert. “You can’t do it much in the day, but at least the day you can see.”

Thankfully, they had Orbison's speedboat as well. They brought the Southport Rider 1 back to a nearby cove, where they could safely board the speedboat.

Sterling and Orbison took off in the speedboat, and the longliner followed.

"In five minutes, they were on their way towing the vessel," reads Lambert's post.

"Seventeen minutes later we had the vessel in the calm waters (near St. Jones Without)," the post continues.

It was now about 4 a.m.

Now having the task of attaching the towline to the vessel, the group decided to wait until daylight.

At 5:45 a.m., Lambert sounded the horn, calling everyone back to action.

They waited until daylight before towing the boat back.

The group attached the towline to the longliner, and at 6 a.m., headed back to shore.

By 8 a.m., both parties arrived safely in Southport.

There were no injuries, and no damage to any of the crafts involved.

Lambert says they never thought twice about doing it, and hope others would do the same in a similar situation.

“You don’t throw abandon to the wind, you watch what you’re doing anyway. You do it correctly, because even then it doesn’t all work out right.”

He praised Orbison and Sterling for knowing exactly what they were doing in a situation like this.

“It worked out well and got them in.”

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