ROCKLAND — A Rockland lobsterman said he thought he was going to die as he struggled Thursday to stay above water in Rockland Harbor.

But the quick response by a crew member of a fishing vessel docked at the Rockland Fish Pier prevented a tragedy.

Gary Kenney had come in from hauling traps and was bringing his lobster boat to its mooring about 200 to 300 yards from the fish pier.

Andrew Banow

He said he was at the bow when another boat came speeding by, despite its being a no-wake zone.

The unexpected wave created by the speeding boat caused him to lose his balance and fall into the water.

Kenney was wearing heavy clothing, including boots, making him sink under the surface.

“I can’t swim, so I came up to the surface and tried to doggy paddle to my skiff,” Kenney said.

He was unable to get aboard the skiff despite multiple attempts and started yelling for help.

“I thought I was going to die,” said Kenney. who was not wearing a life jacket.

At the same time, Andrew Banow was atop a truck on the fish pier unloading fish from the Western Sea.

Banow saw Kenney motoring out to his mooring and a short while later saw the boat and skiff and what looked like legs sticking out of the water alongside the skiff.

“I said, ‘That guy’s in the water,’ ” Banow recalled.

He said as luck would have it, the Western Sea’s skiff, similar to a small tugboat, was in the water when it normally is aboard the fishing vessel.

The tide was particularly low, so the smaller boat had been used to nudge the Western Sea to the pier.

Banow got into the skiff and sped out to where Kenney was struggling to get in his skiff.

Kenney said his hands were slipping off the rail of the skiff and he was about to go under when a hand grabbed him.

Banow pulled him aboard his boat. He said Kenney kept saying he thought he was a goner.

Kenney was taken to his skiff and he put his boat on his mooring and came ashore to again thank Banow.

Kenney said Friday morning he bought a life jacket, which he said he will wear while on his boats.

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