Three passengers and two dogs miraculously survived after their 72-foot yacht caught fire and sank off the coast of New Hampshire.
Chaos unfolded on Saturday as the boat, dubbed the “Elusive,” sailed to a marina in New Castle, a small town located just a few miles south of the Maine border and made up entirely of islands at its easternmost point. of New Hampshire.
At about 4 p.m., one of the passengers on board realized black smoke was rising from below decks, the New Hampshire Department of Safety said in a statement. USA today†
“Whatever happened on the boat happened quickly,” Portsmouth fire chief Todd Germain said in an interview with the news channel. Shortly after seeing the smoke on the 2007 Marlow yacht, the fire chief remarked, “they had to jump into the water.”
“Within minutes, the boat was completely filled with smoke,” a Marine Patrol spokesman said USA today.
The passengers on board were husband and wife Arthur “Kitt” Watson, 67, and Diane Watson, 57, both of New Canaan, and the chief mate of the yacht, Jarrod Tubbs, 33, of Jupiter, Florida, all of whom are reported to be light had hypothermia and injuries requiring treatment at Portsmouth Regional Hospital. They were all released later Saturday afternoon.
According to the yacht’s website, Mr Watson has “raced and cruised all his life” traveling twice around the world by boat, while his wife, Diane, joined the yacht Team Too Elusive in 2007 and is an active member of the team.
The pair spoke to NBC News Boston the day after their yacht, where they had lived for the past year, went up in flames and said it was only a matter of seconds before they made the instinctive decision to jump into the water. cold waters of Maine.
“It was a matter of 15 seconds from when we smelled the smoke to when the flames just showed up. It was the most terrifying, harrowing experience we’ve ever had,” Mr Watson told NBC, speaking virtually from a friend’s place in Maine where the couple stays until they can plan their next moves.
“I said, ‘Get the noodles, get a dog, and let’s go, we need to get off this boat,'” his wife added in the interview, before noting that there were no life jackets on board at the time. were accessible to them.
The pair said they swam as fast as they could in the cold water and, according to their estimate, were only about 100 yards from the marina where they planned to dock when they jumped into the water.
“I was just scared, I thought the boat was going to explode,” Ms Watson said. The trio and dogs were scooped up by a local lobster fisherman, but they were in the frigid waters long enough to cause mild hypothermia.
“Our whole lives were on that boat,” the 66-year-old sailor told NBC, adding that “it happened so quickly, it was just terrifying how quickly this happened.”
“It’s something you see on TV,” Ms Watson said.
According to the New Hampshire State Marine Patrol, the two dogs, along with the adult passengers, made a good recovery from the terrifying battle with death.
“Physically they are doing well, but mentally they are still trying to process everything,” said Amber Lagace, the spokesman for the Marine Patrol to ABC News. “Their dogs (golden doodles) are doing well. This boat was their home.”
According to the statement from the New Castle Fire Department, it took hours to get the flames of the burning 72-foot yacht under control and extinguish. Several agencies and neighboring firefighters, including the Coast Guard, the Kittery Harbor Master, the Newington Fire Department and other local police forces, helped put out the flames before the ship sank below the surface.
“We remain incredibly grateful for the overwhelming support of our community,” the New Castle Fire Department wrote.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation, the Portsmouth fire chief said.
The Coast Guard, which helped divert boats away from the inferno on Saturday, continued to monitor the area where the ship had sunk well into the day on Sunday.
A Coast Guard representative, Petty Officer Emma Fliszar, Third Class, told the Associated Press that the agency continued to monitor the area for possible contamination from fuel that could have leaked from the sinking ship as it set.