Search suspended for possible distressed boater in Buzzards Bay

FAIRHAVEN, Mass. (WPRI) — The Coast Guard has called off the search search for a possible mariner in distress after looking in Buzzards Bay for hours but coming up empty-handed.

The Coast Guard called off the search just after 1 p.m. Thursday after searching 767 square nautical miles. According to the Coast Guard, the search will stay suspended pending the development of any new information.

The search began Wednesday night.  According to the Coast Guard, around 8:30 p.m. watchstanders heard a mumbled male voice issue a mayday call over the radio. The call repeated itself a few minutes later, and again 20 minutes later.

The location, nature of the distress, description of the vessel and the number of people aboard the vessel were unknown.

The Coast Guard sent out a 47-foot motor lifeboat crew from Station Menemsha on Martha’s Vineyard and searched Buzzards Bay Wednesday night. They sent out their 87-foot cutter Hammerhead overnight which was joined by another cutter from Long Island around 6 a.m. Thursday.

Once the sun came up Thursday, a C-144 Coast Guard aircraft was sent out to search the area by-sky. Crews searched Buzzards Bay, Vineyard Sound, and the water surrounding New Bedford, Dartmouth, Fairhaven, and Mattapoisett.

Thursday morning, Coast Guard officials described the distress calls as “bone-chilling”.

One fishing captain said there are, despite the snow and cold, fishing boats out this time of year catching scallops and groundfish. However, officials said they have no received any reports of missing boaters.

One longtime resident of West Island said it’s not uncommon to see the Coast Guard searching the bay for missing people, but it’s always unsettling.

“My mother would say, you don’t fool around with the water. You don’t. You know you have to be observant from one minute to another. You never know. So, whoever’s out there, I mean it’s a distress call, right? Yeah? God be with them,” said Terry Pereira of Fairhaven.