Port agent recounts rescue of missing boater

Nathan Carman

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A 22-year-old man who was lost at sea for more than a week seemed healthy when he was found, according to the captain of the cargo ship that saved him.

Nathan Carman was about 100 nautical miles south of Martha’s Vineyard when he was discovered by the Orient Lucky on Sept. 25.

“They came across Mr. Carman bobbing around in a little, looked like kind of an inflatable life raft,” said Tom O’Reilly, port agent for the Orient Lucky.

O’Reilly spoke to Eyewitness News Tuesday on behalf of the ship’s captain, Zhao Hengdong, who speaks little English.

According to O’Reilly, Hengdong said Carman did not appear to be suffering from dehydration, hypothermia, or any other ailment despite being stranded for more than a week.

“He was waving and screaming for them and they pulled up along side him,” O’Reilly explained. “They threw a life ring with a rope attached to him and he got out of his raft, he grabbed a hold of the life ring, and they pulled him to the side of the ship and they lowered their gangway, and that was it.”

Carman and his mother set out for a fishing trip from Point Judith on Sept. 17 and were reported missing the following day. The U.S. Coast Guard has since called off their search and 54-year-old Linda Carman is presumed dead.

Nathan and Linda Carman
Nathan and Linda Carman

The Orient Lucky was on its way from Providence to Boston when crew members spotted Carman.

“He did ask the captain when he first came on if there was any sign of his mother or if he had picked his mother up,” O’Reilly added.

While Carman appeared to be in good health, the captain said he seemed very sad while on board.

“Just seemed to look sad about the whole affair, what had happened,” he said. “Probably the same reaction as anybody who had lost their mother, I suppose.”

South Kingstown police are investigating the facts surrounding Linda Carman’s disappearance with assistance from federal and state law enforcement agencies in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont.

Carman was questioned upon his return to shore on Sept. 27 and investigators executed a search warrant at his Vernon, Vermont home. Linda’s home in Middletown, Conn. was also searched last week.