Throughout history tales of a ship’s voyage have romantically played upon the hearts of many a Captains, Sailors and sea lovers. The ocean’s hold stories of loss, love, freedom, history, finance and fishing. A boat out on the sea is one of the last, few forms of freedom to experience in life. In the end the sea will always have its way, no matter what you may believe.
The Queen Bee story has been told over and over since summer. I can’t help but repeat it on this quiet, snowy day in late November. Maybe it’s the ending , maybe its the impending arrival of winter. This is a modern-day tale of a boat and crew surviving a claim held by the sea. All the possibilities of ruin the minute the sea takes it is lost and years go by. The pain in the Captains heart of wonder and forfeiture. A modern-day tale that leaves much to the imagination … if only boats could talk.
As he swam toward the coast of Nantucket, Mass. in August 2008, Scott Douglas, 58, watched his yellow fishing boat disappear, carried away by the swelling surf. He thought it would be the last time he’d ever see the Queen Bee. Douglas remembers the water was restless on the day he set out to sea, and the fish weren’t biting. He tried to keep the boat stationary, bracing himself as huge rollers crashed into it.
“At all times, it’s a very sketchy area,” Douglas commented to the media. “You wouldn’t want to be dumped in the ocean there.”
The area known for hazardous shoals. The general area near Tuckernuck island is shallow and all sand that often shifts dramatically tide to tide. The tides run extremely strong and there as a great deal of the water from the Nantucket Sound runs in/out over a shallow area.
A rogue wave knocked Douglas and his brother-in-law, Rich St. Pierre, off the boat and into a sink-or-swim fight for survival.
Douglas remembers thinking the water was not too cold. “The only way I was going to survive was just to get started, not tread water,” he said.
But swimming didn’t come as easy to St. Pierre, 68, who had gone through open heart surgery a year earlier. However, a survival kit containing an inflatable device had been knocked off the boat and floated to St. Pierre’s side. It was a miracle, Douglas said, noting that the kit was the only item from the boat in the water with them.
Scott Douglas, 58, watched his yellow fishing boat disappear in 2008, carried away by the swelling surf. He thought it would be the last time he’d ever see the Queen Bee.
Douglas swam for about an hour and made it to shore on Smith’s Point, a beach off the coast of Nantucket. Dripping wet and exhausted, he walked up to a cabin and asked to use the phone to alert the Coast Guard. Not long after, he saw St. Pierre walking on dry land.
“At the end of the day, it just wasn’t our time,” Douglas said.
While that marked the end of their ordeal, the Queen Bee’s journey didn’t end there.
Off on its own it traveled the Atlantic Ocean and years later it was found in Spain.
Its fiberglass hull kept it from breaking apart, and foam insulation — designed as a sound-deafening feature — kept it afloat. 3½ years across 4,000 miles of ocean. “Enduring value,” is how Regulator President Joan Maxwell describes it.
Photo Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard
Lt. Joe Klinker, a U.S. Coast Guard spokesman, said the most likely scenario is that the boat somehow got across the continental shelf and into the Gulf Stream. From there it may drift north off the coast of northern Canada and then east with the North Atlantic currents.He said it’s rare, but not unheard of for an object off the coastline of the United States to drift across the Atlantic to Europe. But a boat? “I’ve never heard of anything like this,” Klinker said.
’It probably could have floated for another three years,’ Klinker said.
It’s not uncommon, he said, for the Coast Guard to locate derelict ships from Florida off the coast of Virginia, or vessels from Virginia off the coast of Massachusetts, but never in Europe.
The ability to withstand the hardships of the Atlantic has a lot to do with the make of the boat, Klinker said. The Queen Bee is a 26-foot center console fishing boat made by Regulator. Regulators are North Carolina bred and born, tested against the challenging conditions of the Outer Banks, and delivered to locations throughout the U.S. and abroad.
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Since the story originally was released the boat has made its way back to Regulator Headquarters. There was a reunion for Douglas and Rich with the boat. There is even talk of a children’s book based on the story. Happy ending.
A great testament of the craftsmanship of such solid boats. I can only add almost all of my saltwater fish have been landed on such beauties. Good times and plenty of fish.