10:40 a.m.

The Maine-built sailing vessel Raw Faith, abandoned by its owner Tuesday after it began taking on water in heavy seas, sank this morning off Nantucket, Mass.

Coast Guard Petty Officer Connie Terrell said the 118-foot, three-masted ship went down at about 7:30 a.m. in approximately 6,000 feet of water.

“It’s not considered a hazard to navigation and there are no plans for salvage since it’s so far down,” Terrell said.

The Coast Guard Cutter Reliance remained on the scene through the night and left the area after Raw Faith sank, Terrell said.

Terrell said she was “not sure” of the whereabouts of ship owner George McKay and a crew member who were rescued by a Coast Guard helicopter after abandoning ship Tuesday night.

1:00 a.m.

The captain and crew of the Maine-built sailing vessel Raw Faith were rescued Tuesday off Nantucket, Mass., after the ship started taking on water in rough seas.

Coast Guard spokesman Luke Clayton said Tuesday night that the 118-foot wooden, three-masted ship was unable to move under its own power.

Its captain, George McKay, and an unidentified male crew member had to jump off the ship into the ocean, where Randall Rice, a Coast Guard rescue swimmer, loaded the men into a basket.

A Coast Guard helicopter raised the basket into its cockpit and both men were taken to the Coast Guard station on Cape Cod. They were evaluated for injuries and released, Clayton said.

A message left on McKay’s cell phone Tuesday night was not returned.

“The seas were pretty rough,” Clayton said. “I believe the ship was taking on water and became unstable. Bigger boats like this one tend to tip over or roll over when they’ve taken on a lot of water.”

Raw Faith was built and designed by McKay to look like a 16th-century English galleon. He planned one day to provide free sailing adventures for children who use wheelchairs and their families.

He was inspired by his daughter, who has Marfan syndrome, a rare hereditary disorder that requires her to use a wheelchair. In August 2003, Raw Faith was launched from the Down East fishing village of Addison.

In 2004, it spent several months in Rockland after being damaged by stormy seas. And in May 2006, Raw Faith lost all three masts in strong winds off Mount Desert Rock. The vessel was rescued by the Coast Guard.

Raw Faith came to Portland Harbor in October 2009. Phineas Sprague, who owns Portland Yacht Services, offered McKay a berth while the vessel underwent rudder repairs.

Sprague said McKay spent the winter in Portland before departing for Boston this summer.

Sprague said he has since lost touch with McKay, but heard that he may have been offering some type of pirate ship tour at a location near Boston Harbor.

“It’s too bad. There has never been anyone I’ve met who has worked harder at making something out of nothing,” Sprague said.

Clayton, the Coast Guard spokesman, said he did not know where Raw Faith was heading when McKay called for help.

The vessel, which does not have an engine, may have to be towed to shore, Clayton said.

McKay and his crew member had to jump off the ship because the Coast Guard helicopter could not safely lower its basket and avoid the ship’s masts or rigging.

Coast Guard vessels were expected to remain with the ship overnight to prevent any collision with passing vessels.

The incident remains under investigation. McKay could face fines. Clayton said the vessel was equipped with only one submersible suit, though two people were on board.

 

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at: [email protected]