By Marjorie Nesin
---- — Massachusetts State Police divers recovered the body of a 63-year-old Gloucester man in the water Wednesday morning near a boat he was reportedly living aboard at the Jodrey State Fish Pier.
Mark A. Collins’s family reported him missing Tuesday afternoon, fearing he may have fallen from his boat, the F/V Traveler, on which he lived.
One of the family members had boarded the boat Sunday and found all of his belongings there. His blue Volvo was still parked at the pier too, she told police. But the woman found the cabin door ajar and despite searching for Collins, did not find him.
Though police were in the beginning stages of an investigation Wednesday afternoon, Police Chief Leonard Campanello said officers are not searching for any suspects in connection with Collins’s death.
“It is extremely preliminary, the investigation,” Campanello said. “We have no suspects we’re looking for or anything like that, but it’s not anything we can comment on. It’s just too early.”
By 9:20 Wednesday morning, a state dive team had hit the water, and divers retrieved Collins’s body from the water just before 10 a.m., bringing the body ashore at the pier of U.S. Coast Guard Station Gloucester.
Usually, police would wait a full day before beginning such a search, but Gloucester police arranged for the state divers to come as soon as they could, at 9 a.m.
“It would generally be 24 hours, but we had some inkling that he might be near his boat,” Campanello said.
Two men watched from a spot on the dock, one rubbing browned fingers across a bottom lip. A somber silence washed over the pier in the moments after word spread about the divers’ job there.
Fishermen and pier workers said Collins had only lived on the boat, and that he was not a fisherman. A “For Sale” sign on a boat window listed the sale price as $125,000. A crack spread across the next window over.
Built in 1942 by Cambridge Ship Builders Inc., the vessel measures about 83 feet long and weighs 58 net tons. Before Collins bought the boat, it had been converted from a sub chaser and World War II aircraft rescue boat to a yacht.
Blue paint with peach trim paint have both chipped up all along the wooden boat, revealing its age and condition. On the front deck, a single plastic patio chair sits atop a Persian rug.
The boat had run aground in Rockport’s Loblolly Cove in early June, with only Collins aboard.
A command duty officer with the U.S. Coast Guard at that time pointed out that the Traveler was “not in good shape.”
Marjorie Nesin can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3451, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.