Deputy Fire Chief Michael O’Brien said at about 3:27 p.m., the Fire Department received a report of a capsized boat off Fountain Avenue. Callers reported two people in the water holding on to a boat. The Narragansett Bay Marine Task Force was activated, causing marine units to be dispatched from multiple agencies, he said.
At 3:32 p.m., Portsmouth Car 2 arrived at Fountain Avenue to find an overturned sailboat, approximately 12 feet in length, with two people in the water. A boat from Pirate Cove Marina was with the vessel in distress, the deputy chief said.
At 3:39 p.m., 12 minutes after the first 911 call, Tiverton Fire Department’s Marine 14 arrived on location. At the time of their arrival, the Pirate Cove Boat had taken the stricken vessel in tow, he said.
The sailboat was returned to shore in the area of Fountain Avenue without injuries to its occupants.
Neither the boat operator, Sheldon Snodgrass of Williamsburg, Mass., nor his daughter, was wearing life vests, despite sailing in poor weather conditions, Deputy Chief O’Brien said.
Mr. Snodgrass expressed displeasure with the slow response of responders, he said. Apparently, he and his daughter had been in distress for as long as 20 minutes before the first 911 call.
The Portsmouth Fire Department expressed its appreciation to all responders — Pirate Cove Marina for retrieving the boat and assisting its occupants and Tiverton Fire Department for its rapid response, said the deputy chief.