During hurricane season I am always reminded of a scary incident that took place during a storm in 1974. It taught me a good lesson about how fierce Nauset Inlet can be, even deadly.

My brother and I were boating around Nauset Harbor during a September Nor’Easter and saw flashing headlights at the Point through the driving rain. As we got near we saw that several fishermen were drawing our attention to a small Whaler overturned in the mouth of the Inlet on an outgoing tide. The waves were 10 feet tall and right in the middle of it all was an upside-down boat with the propeller sticking straight up. It had flipped over in the big waves and the anchor had escaped the bow compartment and secured it in place on the sandy bottom. As we got closer we saw a man in his 70’s and a young boy and a dog hanging on for dear life. The man had one arm around the outboard motor and the other arm around the boy and had the dog by the collar. It was a desperate situation and they were 200 feet from shore. The water was ice cold.

I maneuvered my boat close enough so that my brother could throw them a line which the man tied around the boy. My brother pulled the boy into the boat with the dog but the man was losing his grip. Quickly, we threw the line out again and the man tied the rope around his waist and was saved. He almost didn’t make it. The outgoing current was extremely strong and the Whaler was stuck in the trough of a 10-foot standing wave.

The man, the boy, and the dog were delivered to the beach and some fishermen wrapped them in blankets and took them directly to the hospital in Hyannis. The Harbormaster arrived and tried to save the boat but as soon as he uprooted the anchor the bow of the Whaler dug deep into the water like a wedge and began to pull outward. The Harbormaster’s boat was no match for Mother Nature. The line snapped and the Whaler and all of its gear traveled quickly out the Inlet through the storm surf. The boat was a total loss. The crew was saved.

I found out later that they were renting a cottage on Nauset Heights and the Whaler came with the property. They must have had no idea what they were getting into. On more than one occasion Nauset Inlet has “swallowed” up fishing boats and even taken lives. It can be a dangerous place.

Jess Tucker
9 Standish Rd.