PORT CLYDE — Todd Simmons and Damon Crumett were returning from hauling traps off Port Clyde late Tuesday afternoon when the engine on the 38-foot lobster boat Prestige began cutting out.

Simmons, 57, of Port Clyde, captain of the Prestige, noticed that a gauge indicated the engine was overheating. He opened the hatch to the engine compartment and smoke billowed out.

The 38-foot Prestige sank in about 145 feet of water after an engine fire burned the boat to the waterline Tuesday. Photo courtesy Todd Simmons

He immediately went to his VHF radio and tried to contact anyone from the Port Clyde area but was unsuccessful. He then called his brother and father, Ronald Simmons, who owns the Prestige, by cell phone but couldn’t reach them. He eventually contacted his wife and told her the boat was on fire.

Simmons said the fire spread so fast he was unable to return to the wheelhouse.

He and Crumett took off their boots and oilskins and grabbed lobster buoys from the deck to keep them afloat. As heat from the flames increased, the two jumped into the water.

Simmons said the water was very cold.


“I was concerned how long we would be in the water,” he said. “There was also a little bit of a chop.”

The water temperature off Port Clyde was 50 degrees Tuesday.

“Luckily, two fishermen from Cushing were coming in,” Simmons said.

Jarrett Stackpole arrived on the fishing vessel Plan B within a few minutes and hauled Simmons out of the water. Tommy Spear, on the fishing vessel Nancy Lee, picked up Crumett.

Simmons estimated they were about two miles offshore when they had to abandon ship.

The two fishing boats circled the Prestige as it burned to the waterline and then sank in about 145 feet of water. Simmons said the vessel was insured and his father was in contact with the insurance company Wednesday.

The Coast Guard Rockland station sent a vessel, as did the Maine Marine Patrol.

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: