Rough seas force postponement of dive for missing vessel

FAIRHAVEN, Mass. (WPRI) — Efforts to find a clamming vessel that sank off the coast of Nantucket earlier this week have been delayed.

The Misty Blue and two of its crew members – Michael Roberts, 49, and Jonathan Saraiva, 32 – have been missing since the boat went down about 10 miles offshore Monday night.

Massachusetts State Police had planned to send divers into the water Thursday to search for the vessel but were forced to postpone it until Saturday, saying the seas were too rough to conduct a safe dive.

The Coast Guard said it covered about 1,600 square miles before suspending its water search Tuesday.

Captain Eric Arabian, 44, and crewman Colby McMullen, 22, were rescued by a good Samaritan and returned to shore. McMullen on Thursday told Eyewitness News the sinking happened very fast. He said the boat was listing then overturned, adding that Arabian did everything he could in those moments.

Coast Guard records show the Misty Blue’s propeller was significantly damaged back in 2013 when its tow line became caught. The year before, documents state the vessel ran aground when a crewman fell asleep at the wheel, which caused substantial damage.

Atlantic Capes Fisheries, which operated the Misty Blue, said the incidents happened before it acquired the vessel. The boat was refurbished last winter, according to the company.

Eyewitness News also learned that issues with an onboard pump prevented recent clamming trips. Atlantic Capes Fisheries said it was a fuel pump tied to dredging equipment.

A former deckhand filed a lawsuit in September, claiming he was injured due to an on-board hazard and the negligence of the captain and crew. His attorney said it’s not being alleged that the boat was not seaworthy overall or that the incident had anything to do with its sinking.