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Rapid Response to Boat on Sandbar

Barrington harbor patrol, rescue vehicles and police officers join Narragansett Marine Task Force in responding to report of 'vessel in distress'.

A man who jumped off his boat after it went aground on a sandbar in Narragansett Bay Sunday afternoon, Aug. 19, sparked a response from Barrington’s harbor patrol, fire department, and police department and the new Narragansett Bay Marine Task Force.

When all was said and done, however, the report of a “vessel in distress” was much ado about nothing, said Barrington Fire Chief Gerald Bessette.

“There really was nothing to it,” Bessette said. “He apparently ran his boat aground on the Conimicut sandbar. Then for some reason, he jumped off the boat. He was just trying to get his boat off the sandbar.”

The call to Barrington dispatch came in about 4 pm. The caller said the vessel was much closer to Nayatt Point in Barrington waters than across the bay.

A police report of the incident shows that Barrington’s harbor patrol boat and several rescue vehicles responded within minutes.

But the responders soon discovered that the boat in distress was in Warwick waters and that the U.S. Coast Guard and the marine task force already had the situation under control, Bessette said.

The boat’s owner apparently attempted to swim to shore to get help. He was spotted at one point clinging to a rock in the bay.

Bessette said that the boater apparently attempted to navigate the bay on the wrong side of the Conimicut lighthouse, where a sandbar waits for all but the smallest boats. The fire chief said the man apparently was not familiar with that part of Narragansett Bay.

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