April 23rd 2020

Three MM&P members aboard North Ferry’s MASHOMACK saved a boater who had fallen off his skiff into Shelter Island Sound on Saturday just after sunset.

On the run that departed Greenport for Shelter Island around 1930, the three-person crew–Jennifer Card Venth, James Cogan and Michael Mundy–saw a man fall from his skiff into the 47-degree water of the Sound.

The crew changed course to pull the man out of the water, wrote Charity Robey of the Shelter Island Reporter.

With help from the crew of another ferry, they also got hold of the skiff, and delivered the man and his boat safely to shore a little after 2000.

“One soul in the water, one retrieved. Everybody’s alive and the boat’s been retrieved,” Cogan reported on VHS radio.

“They kept both their cool and their schedule,” Robey noted.

“Ferry crews are in harm’s way every day, especially now that Covid-19 forces them into direct contact with a steady stream of potential virus carriers,” she wrote.

“But on Saturday evening, the crew of MASHOMACK had more than microbes to contend with.”

The crew was about an hour into their shift, with Venth at the wheel, when they saw the man guiding a 12-foot aluminum skiff, standing up, without a life vest.

He had passed just behind the ferry when Mundy saw him go into the water.

The crew immediately began to follow the “man-overboard” procedures that they had practiced many times.

Venth, who was at the forward wheel, asked Cogan to take the wheel and guide the 130-foot-long ferry close enough for the crew to pull the man out of the water while keeping the ferry between the man and his skiff, which was circling out of control nearby.

While Cogan steered toward the boater, who was swimming fully clothed in the icy water, Venth kept eyes on him and Mundy deployed rescue gear over the side, including a ladder, platform, ropes and life rings.

The skiff continued to run in circles as the MASHOMACK crew worked to corral the uncontrolled boat, which had become a hazard.

“Every single passenger got out of their cars to see if they could help,” Venth said.

Mundy helped the boater aboard and provided him with a dry change of clothes. He had cuts to his arm and forehead, but declined medical attention.

He returned on Sunday to see about his boat, and leave a few cases of beer as a gesture of thanks to the crew who most likely saved his life.

“On the ferry the next day, I looked up at the ladder system on the second level and realized how fast they brought it down to the water,” he said.

“I’m glad they were there. They could not have done better.”

The mariners who crew the North Ferry vessels are members of the MM&P Atlantic Maritime Group.

“Their highly professional response to an emergency situation is exactly what I would expect from this well-trained crew,” said AMG Representative Mike Riordan.

“The constant vigilance exercised over their watery domain is to be commended,” he added. “God bless them.”