Five rescued from boat that ran aground near Little Bird Island

By Matthew Bernat | Jun 18, 2017
Courtesy of: Wareham Harbormaster Department The five people who were rescued from a sunk boat in Buzzards Bay walk up the ramp at Tempest Knob after being taken from the water on Sunday morning.

Wareham Fire Department and Marion Harbormaster officials rescued five people early Sunday morning who were “cold, but thankfully uninjured” after their boat ran aground near Little Bird Island in Wareham.

Captain Michael Bird of the Wareham Fire Department said the boat hit rocks during low tide. The people on board were fishing and the rainy, foggy weather led to low visibility, which is the reason they ran aground, said Bird.

He noted those onboard suffered “minor bumps and bruises” and declined treatment once back on land.

Bird said all five were standing in about 1-foot of water when officials arrived to make the rescue. Due to the low tide, the boat didn’t sink completely, said Bird.

According to the Wareham Harbormaster Department, Wareham officials were notified at approximately 5:40 a.m. that the boat was taking on water by Wareham Police.

Officials said the reporting party was unsure of the boat's exact location due to poor conditions. In response, Wareham Harbormaster Marine Units 1 and 2 were dispatched along with other agencies from the Buzzards Bay Marine Task Force Unit for the search.

Officials located the boat at 6:30 a.m. in a shallow, rocky area northeast of Little Bird Island. At that time, a Marion Harbormaster vessel arrived and all five on board were removed from the partially sunk boat and taken to Tempest Knob “cold, but thankfully uninjured,” according to a post on the Wareham Harbormaster Department’s Facebook page. All five were wearing lifejackets, officials said.

The Massachusetts Environmental Police were notified and are investigating. The boat was salvaged later during the day during high tide. Salvage efforts were coordinated by TowBoat US Cape Cod/Plymouth.

Comments (11)
Posted by: Spherebreaker | Jun 18, 2017 13:42


Posted by: Society for Suppression of Noise | Jun 18, 2017 20:55


Posted by: Spherebreaker | Jun 19, 2017 07:13


Posted by: Swifts_Sheriff | Jun 19, 2017 09:01


Posted by: Rosebud | Jun 19, 2017 09:18

Smart boaters--actually had and wore life jackets!  Thankfully, all are okay.

Posted by: Spherebreaker | Jun 19, 2017 12:37


Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Jun 19, 2017 16:33

Good ole Little Bird.  It's one of the more tricky obstacles we have. Dry Ledge is more treacherous but it has trusty Red Buoy #2 marking it.  Little Bird has no marker.  It is invisible at high tide and doesn't stick out much at low so it's hard to see in the fog. I've been afraid of it for 30 years.  As kids in the early 90s we stood up a white pipe on it so we knew where it was at high tide.  It only lasted about a season.  These guys made an honest mistake.  Good news that nothing really bad happened.  Aside from  what happened to their boat, it  could have ended a lot worse.

Posted by: bluebird | Jun 20, 2017 17:53

The only thing I have to point out is that I find it interesting that the initial report came from the Wareham Police........ which leads me to believe that the call must have been placed using a cellphone using 911, not via VHF radio. It worked OK this time, but it is my understanding that all 911 calls get routed to the State Emergency Management in Framingham, a 911 operator there is not going to be very familiar with Buzzards Bay and landmarks that we boaters would recognize in an instant. A call on the VHF will alert local rescue personel, the USCG, TOWBOAT/US, and every boat in the area (VHF range is typically up to 25 miles) that someone needs HELP. Cellphone calls only get heard by the party that is being called, and if confusion occurs about just where the person in distress is located....... delays, perhaps critical can occur. Now, perhaps this call was made direct to the WPD, and that would have helped, but a call on the VHF (Channel 16) would be a better bet and my choice.

Overall, I am glad this near tragedy ended safely. Carrying and USING up to date NOAA Charts is one practice that could have reduced the chances of this incident happening, there is not substitute for charts (paper or electronic) backed up by local knowledge.


Wareham by the sea, I too wish a Daymarker could be erected on Little Bird Island! With reflective tape to allow it to be visible at night. The process to get a Private AToN approved though is not easy.

Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Jun 20, 2017 20:17

Bluebird, you are spot on with the cellphone vs VFD. Cellphones are better than nothing out there but  a VFD is the best.  911 on a cellphone is for the land. I have the direct number for Wareham Police and Wareham Harbormaster programmed in mine.  That's of course in addition to a 25 watt VHF with 8' antenna in my larger boat and a good handheld VHF for the smaller.  It's no joke out there.


As far as Little Bird, a formal marker would be great but unlikely.  It's too far from the channel.  Everytime I leave the channel over at Weweantic/ Stones Estate and cut over towards Little Harbor I'm on full lookout for it.  I have it on GPS and can even detect it coming with my depth sounder due to the gradual decrease in depth when approaching it.  But without those electronics, it's a bugger!

Posted by: bluebird | Jun 22, 2017 00:57

WBTS, I have the Harbormaster's number programed into my Cell phone as well, not for possible rescue (although, in a pinch that could help) but more for reporting any other things. Also, the number for Waterway-Watch, not that I'd ever need that in Wareham area? 25 watt VHF on my sailboat (and my Dad's small powerboat) handheld as back-up. I have marked compass courses on my chart to avoid Little Bird and the North end of Dry Ledge, don't have GPS yet...... but, have always wondered about one, and if I could set a waypoint for Little Bird as a place to avoid. Sort-of like those new "lane-departure" alarms on cars.


Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Jun 23, 2017 11:37

Bluebird, GPS would be the next thing.  Same with the way I have my VHFs, I have a base mount unit in my larger boat and a handheld for the smaller.  Both have Little Bird and Dry Ledge marked and identified clearly.  I bought both on craigslist really cheap and they're great.  Rich boaters like to upgrade their toys and sell their perfectly good old toys to poor boaters like me.  Both are Garmin.  The handheld was $60 and the base unit was $100.  That's a fraction of new.

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