Little Compton Fire Chief Rick Petrin said the men were aboard a 28-foot sailboat en-route from Bridgeport, Conn., to Dennis, Mass. on Cape Cod. One of the men had apparently just bought the boat in Connecticut from a previous owner.
“It was windy and quite rough and they had encountered problems even before they got to Sakonnet Point,” Chief Petrin said.
The sailboat was driven in among the rocks and breakers in the vicinity of West Island and the Sakonnet Light where it became stuck.
The sailboat had been towing a small aluminum tender with an outboard motor and the two tried to use the smaller boat to tow the sailboat out from the rocks.
“But they couldn’t move it and the little boat was swamped, sending them into the cold water,” Chief Petrin said, adding that the men then tried with mixed success to get themselves up onto the rocks.
“Fortunately, one of the men had managed to keep a cell phone dry,” and used it to call 911.
Using location coordinates provided by the 911 system, Little Compton Harbormaster Mike Massa and Fire Department Lt. David Wood set out from Sakonnet Harbor in the harbormaster’s boat and quickly found the two at around 6:45 a.m. and managed to get them aboard. One of the men was mildly hypothermic but, after drying off and warming up in a waiting ambulance at the harbor, they declined hospital treatment.
Chief Petrin said he understands that the boat was pulled free later by a salvage vessel — no word on the extent of damage.
“They told us that they had become disoriented” and thought they were well past Sakonnet Point and in the vicinity of Cuttyhunk, the chief said.