Two oyster growers were rescued from Southold Bay Wednesday just as darkness fell after their boat became stuck on an ice formation off Paradise Point.
Southold Town police received a report of a stranded vessel in the area of Paradise Point at 4:04 p.m. Police in a marine unit located the 12-foot boat, according to Chief Martin Flatley. Daniel Egan, 31, of Riverhead, and Daniel Harbes, 28, of Mattituck were on board, according to a press release issued Wednesday night. Mr. Egan “had been attempting to salvage his oyster traps from damage incurred by large ice formations,” police said.
Police called for assistance from the Southold Fire Department. Chief Jim Rich said the department has a crew trained in cold water rescues, but given the situation, he was concerned about putting firefighters in harm’s way. It was an “unusual case,” he said. Where the boat was stuck on the ice, the tide comes and goes in various directions. “The tendency is for the ice to jam up,” he said. It was getting dark quickly, and he did not want to put his firefighters in jeopardy.
Firefighters were going to don cold water-immersion suits and go out onto the ice while tethered to try and reach the stranded men, but before they had a chance to try that, the police marine unit was able to rescue the men.
Chief Flatley said in an email that both men had to get into the water and pull themselves a short distance to the police boat. “We almost didn’t make it out,” he said.
The men were taken to nearby Port of Egypt Marina to a waiting Southold ambulance. Chief Rich said the men refused further medical attention after being assessed by emergency medical technicians. “I’m sure they got home and took a hot shower,” he said.
Photo caption: Southold Town police on scene at Port of Egypt in Southold Wednesday night. (Credit: Krysten Massa)