Home Fire News Two fireboats break down while battling yacht blaze

Two fireboats break down while battling yacht blaze


A blackened hull is all that remains of a 57-foot yacht after two fireboats broke down while battling the boat blaze Monday. “It was just a freak occurrence,” said Engineer C.J. Conner of the North Beach Volunteer Fire Department, who was manning Calvert County Fire Boat 1 when its pump fizzled out.

Annapolis’ fireboat was called in to finish the job, but only lasted 45 minutes before its pump also went kaput. Anne Arundel County finally sent out a fire boat from Sandy Point, the next closest boat available.

They had to put out intermittent flare-ups during the $250,000 boat’s five-hour tow into Herrington Harbour North in Tracys Landing.

The fire occurred in the middle of the bay, east of Calvert County. Mickey Robinette of Newark, N.J., captain of the Nettie II, said he and friends on five other boats set out yesterday morning from Herrington Harbour South in Rose Haven, three days into their annual vacation on the Chesapeake.He noticed a fire in the port engine around 11:37 a.m., prompting him, his wife, and two children – ages 18 and 16 – to put on life vests and jump into the bay with their pet dog.

“Everything was very quick. Very hectic,” said Mr. Robinette, explaining they swam to a nearby boat.

No one was hurt and the Robinette clan continued on to Cambridge as passengers on a friend’s boat – leaving the firefighters to deal with the 1977 Pacemaker.

The Calvert County fireboat was the first unit to arrive on the scene at 11:58. Engineer Conner said his four-man crew maneuvered their vessel around the boat for about an hour, dousing the blaze with foam and water, before the boat’s pump gave out. He said most of the fire was out when they called for help.

County firefighters battled several small fires as the hull was towed to shore.

“It’s a big vessel. There are going to be hot spots,” said Battalion Chief Ross Dinkel, who responded to the marina. “It was a lot safer to bring it in.”

Bill Conlyn of Towboat US Herring Bay said the boat was difficult to salvage because of the continual flare-ups and damage that caused the boat to list. It took over five hours to tow the hull the 6 miles into the marina, about twice as long as normal.

“It wouldn’t track behind us,” said Mr. Conyln. “Fortunately it was calm.”

Details about what exactly happened to the Calvert County boat’s pump were not available. Capt. Joseph Martin of the Annapolis City Fire Department said a compression fitting blew off their water pump, requiring them to shut down or risk overheating the pump.

“It’s something that is fixable,” he said, although he’s not sure how long it will take. The boat is still useable as a rescue vessel. It just can’t pump water.

The Pacemaker’s charred remains drew dozens of onlookers to the marina’s L Dock.

“It’s every boater’s nightmare,” said Bill Kennealy of Marlton, N.J, who docked his powerboat, Fanny III in Tracys Landing last night.

Mr. Robinette said the boat, which he purchased two months ago, was insured.

“We’ll replace the boat,” said Mr. Robinette. “We love the water. We’ll get back on the bay.”

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