The Tara Lynn II ran aground at Trundy Point on Saturday morning. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Lt. Nate Perry and one of his crew climbed into an inflatable rescue boat early Saturday morning and pushed off from the beach as a historic storm was bearing down on the Maine coast.

It was around 1:20 a.m. when a distress call was received from the Tara Lynn II, a fishing trawler that had been wrecked on the rocks off Trundy Point in Cape Elizabeth. Four crew members were trapped aboard and vessels that responded to their mayday call couldn’t get close enough to help.

The Tara Lynn II was about 300 feet offshore and conditions were harrowing: winds gusting to 50 mph and 6-foot waves.

Perry headed out from a small nearby beach in a small inflatable boat. With him was Harun Laleli, a rescue swimmer who would go into the surf if anyone fell in.

“We got washed past the spot where we wanted to extricate the people off the boat two times,” said Perry, a lieutenant on the Cape Elizabeth Fire and Rescue Department’s Water Extrication Team.

The swirling winds and choppy waves kept pushing them away from the Tara Lynn II. They also had to dodge cables and chains from the vessel’s rigging that had fallen into the water because the Tara Lynn II was listing so heavily.


On the third attempt, Perry was able to pause just long enough alongside the 49-foot fishing vessel – grabbing hold of the boat to keep from drifting away – so two of the four people could jump into the 10-foot inflatable rescue boat. The inflatable was not large enough to rescue all four in one trip.

“The (inflatable) boat was full of water and taking on waves,” Perry said. “We realized the subjects were going to need to be ready to jump. It was very quick once we pulled alongside. It took 10 seconds and they jumped in, one after the other. As soon as they touched down, we told them to sit as low as possible and hang on.”

On the second trip, rescue swimmer Eric Laszlo accompanied Perry to retrieve the other two crew aboard the fishing boat. Conditions were the same, but Perry said it went more smoothly because they had practice from the first rescue.

Eric Laszlo, from left, Nate Perry and Harun Laleli of Cape Elizabeth Fire and Rescue’s Water Extrication Team came to the aid of four people on board the 49-foot fishing vessel, Tera Lynn II, which ran aground in Saturday’s storm. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Perry said the Coast Guard had quickly determined that a beach rescue would be the best course of action.

There was about 100 feet of calmer water immediately off Trundy Point, and the 10-foot inflatable was small enough that it could be carried by hand to the small beach, Perry said. A Coast Guard rescue helicopter was more than an hour away, and might have had difficulty conducting a rescue during the windstorm, he said.

Cape Elizabeth fire Chief Steve Young, who was present during the rescue, said the rough conditions would have made it hazardous for a Coast Guard vessel to approach from the ocean.


“Our only option was to rescue from the beach side. All four were rescued and on land within 45 minutes,” Young said. “From our perspective, it couldn’t have gone any better.”

He said about a dozen emergency personnel, including from the Portland fire department, were ready on the beach in case anything went wrong.

Perry said the Water Extrication Team conducts many training exercises so they are prepared to conduct water rescues when called upon.

The 49-foot fishing vessel, Tera Lynn II, ran aground off the coast of Trundy Point in Cape Elizabeth, with four people aboard after 1 a.m. Saturday. Cape Elizabeth Fire and Rescue crews were able to use an inflatable to make two trips and bring the four people to shore. Photo courtesy Cape Elizabeth FIre/Rescue

“There’s only a handful of groups that can respond confidently,” Perry said. “It’s a proud feeling to be a part of it.”

All of the people rescued were wearing cold water submersion suits, which fishing vessels are required to carry.

It wasn’t clear Tuesday what went wrong aboard the fishing vessel before it grounded.


Young said the Tara Lynn II was heading back to Portland from a two-day fishing trip, but he didn’t have any more details. Young deferred to the Coast Guard to release the names of the fishing boat’s crew. The Coast Guard, which is investigating the incident, did not respond to a request for information Tuesday.

The Tara Lynn II, meanwhile, remains on the rocks at Trundy Point.

Determination Marine of Portland is working on a plan to demolish and remove the remains of the vessel, with demolition potentially starting as early as later this week.

Determination Marine owner Parker Poole said he happened to be nearby shortly after the wreck occurred, and he brought his 44-foot salvage tug near the wreck. But based on the severe damage to the Tara Lynn II and the weather conditions, he quickly determined that it wouldn’t be possible to tow the vessel. He watched the rescue from his tugboat.

“We are very lucky to have a WET team,” Poole said. “They did a phenomenal job executing the rescue.”

Poole said he is working with property owners, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, the Coast Guard and the insurance company to develop a plan to demolish the fishing boat. Anything that can be salvaged from the wreckage will be, he said. About 500 gallons of diesel fuel has already spilled.

He anticipates they will be bringing two excavators and other heavy equipment to do the demolition. Work can only be done during low tide.

“We estimate the job would take three to four days once we are on site, to disassemble it,” Poole said. “We’re hoping to move forward with the project by the end of the week.”

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