WINTER HARBOR — A 64-year-old scalloper whose boat suddenly heaved to one side and capsized early Monday morning swam for 20 minutes in 30- to 40-degree water, pulled himself to safety, and was already at home before any of his would-be rescuers arrived at the scene.
According to Petty Officer Fred Hoatlin of the U.S. Coast Guard, Robert Bragdon’s vessel Two O’Clock sank at around 8 a.m. Monday when its metal dragnet, which catches scallops, hit rock. The 26-foot boat capsized quickly and the Winter Harbor scalloper, wearing a full suit of foul-weather gear, jumped into the icy waters and swam to shore. The boat was about 250 yards off the rocky Schoodic Peninsula.
Evan Young, a local urchin diver, happened to be watching Bragdon from the shore Monday morning and saw him jump over. Young immediately went for help. “I didn’t figure he could swim that distance, and with all that on,” said Young.
But by the time two Coast Guard vessels and seven local fishing boats circled the area where the Two O’Clock went down, Bragdon was safe.
Despite icy water and all his gear, Bragdon swam to shore, flagged down a couple driving along Schoodic Head Road and got a ride to his house.
“I got a call saying that he was already at home,” Young said.
Bragdon was taken by Hancock County Ambulance to Maine Coast Memorial Hospital in Ellsworth where he was treated for hypothermia, according to Hoatlin. Young said Bragdon was safely home late Monday.
News of the event spread quickly in Winter Harbor. “He’s in really good shape,” said Chris Byers, who heard the story from some fishing buddies. “That’s probably the only reason he’s alive.”