It may not have been “The Perfect Storm,” but for “Wicked Tuna’s” Tyler McLaughlin it was more than adequate.
The captain of the Pinwheel and his mate were out on 10-foot seas and with a wind blowing 35-40 mph off Gloucester, Mass., one night last October when over his radio came a distress call from a nearby boat saying the craft was taking on water.
“So I ran over there,” McLaughlin, now in his third season on the unscripted Sunday National Geographic series, tells Zap2it. “They were a mile away. I had to cut my anchor. My mate pretty much almost got washed over the front of the boat trying to get us free of our anchor. We steamed there, we’re taking waves over the bow. It was pretty intense.”
Upon arrival, McLaughlin immediately recognized the boat — the Miss Sambuca, which was captained by Paul Hebert two seasons ago — going down by the bow and two men standing on its roof. A wave knocked one in the water, injuring his ribs and sternum, but he had a survival suit on, so McLaughlin decided to go after the other, who was uninjured but had no flotation device. They pulled him out of the 47-degree water without incident.
“And then we managed to find the other guy about three-quarters of a mile or a mile away down in the debris field,” McLaughlin says. “… We ended up having to use my boom that I use to lift tuna fish in the boat to boom the guy in the boat because he weighed so much with the survival suit full of water.”
The end result was two very grateful fishermen saved and dropped off at the Gloucester Coast Guard station. The Miss Sambuca, however, didn’t fare as well. It rests on the ocean floor several miles off Gloucester.
“I saved the numbers,” says McLaughlin of the wreck’s GPS coordinates. “I’m not really telling anybody because it’s going to be my own little secret fishing wreck.”