January 10th 2018

The crew of North Ferry’s MENANTIC saved the life of a man who had fallen from his boat into the icy waters of Shelter Island Sound on Dec. 15.

The crew of the MENANTIC–Captain Lance Willumsen, Dennis Raffelock, Jared “Jerry” Gibbs and Jason Brewer–had just pulled into the slip at Shelter Island when in the distance they saw a small boat turning in circles in the water a quarter to a half mile away.

“In the summer, it could have been a diver, but there are very few boats out at this time of year,” Willumsen said.

And, he added, it certainly wasn’t normal for a boat to be “cork-screwing itself into the bay.”

The crew could see no one aboard the smaller boat, but when Brewer looked through the binoculars, he thought he saw a head bobbing up and down in the water.

After unloading vehicles and passengers, the crew of the MENANTIC rushed to the turning boat.

Beside it, in the frigid water, they found 27-year-old David Javier, an employee of Southold Marine Center.

They threw him a life ring and lowered a ladder.

Javier was able to wrap an arm around the life ring and the crew helped him aboard.

“He said that he had gone under twice, and when he came up the second time, he saw a big white ferry coming,” Willumsen said.

Javier was “on the cusp of unconsciousness when they reached him,” a manager at the marina told a journalist for the Long Island newspaper Newsday.

“Somebody got an early Christmas present,” she added.

Javier, who was released from a local hospital after being treated for hypothermia, was indeed very lucky.

“If it had happened on August 15 instead of December 15, it could have been different,” Willumsen said.

Because in the summer there are more boats in the water, the small craft might not have attracted much attention.

“It’s also ironic that if he had been a little further away, we might not have seen him because another quarter mile down there’s a sandbar that would have blocked the view,” the captain added.

“He was lucky because weather conditions were favorable. There were no ripples on the water and there was no ice yet. It was a perfect scenario for noticing a boat and spotting a victim in the water.”

Company protocol at North Ferry is to train every week, alternating man overboard and fire drills, Willumsen said, so when the time came to perform a rescue, “it felt very normal.”

Besides the MENANTIC, North Ferry also operates two other ferries, the MASHOMACK and the MANHANSET.

The crewmembers of all three North Ferry vessels are members of the MM&P Atlantic Maritime Group.