A Harrowing Alaska Fishing Boat Rescue

Photo by the Hartford Courant via Megan Potter
Photo from the Hartford Courant via Megan Potter

The Hartford Courant shared the story of a University of Connecticut student’s  harrowing brush with disaster at sea while working on her father’s fishing boat off the Alaska coast.

Here’s reporter Christine Dempsey with more from Megan Potter’s experience, when the boat began to take on water:

As the boat’s warning alarms began to sound, her father told the family to put on their survival suits — big, orange, top-to-bottom coverings that protect the wearer from the cold Alaskan waters, which are about 40 degrees at the surface at that time of year.

On the radio, he put out a “mayday” distress call.

A 19-year-old animal science major from Quechee, Vt., Megan grew up with her father spending summers on fishing boats in Alaska. He had worked on the boats for more than 30 summers, and for the last three she had joined him.

In the years she had been helping him, Corey Potter had taught her a lot, like about how boats create sinkholes when they slip under water — if people or another boat are too close, they get sucked down with it.

That could have happened to the Star Watcher, the fishing boat that was closest to the Ambition as it took on water. As the Star Watcher approached, Corey Potter made the decision to abandon ship — everybody but the captain.

The order prompted a quick exchange between the captain and his son.

“Kyle’s like, ‘No way, I’m not going in if you’re not going in,'” Corey said.

Megan and the rest of the crew went to the back of the boat, which was now nearly under water.

In his deepest, loudest voice, her father ordered Potter and Erin Tortolano to go first.

“You girls in the water, now!” he yelled.

Her mom and brother went next, and her father went last.

In the water, Megan thought about sinkholes and getting pulled under by a sinking ship. She could no longer make eye contact with her father.

“I look down into the water and it’s dark, deep, 75 feet down,” she said. “And you don’t know what’s down there.”

It’s an incredible story, so read it in its entirety.  Glad Monica and her family and the crew are okay. She’ll have quite the story to tell to her UConn classmates.