By James Niedzinski
---- — Two months after the Gloucester-based scalloping boat Foxy Lady II and its crew of two were lost at sea, the captain’s father says he still has questions about what may have happened, and how the vessel could have gone down without any signal from its own electronic emergency beacon.
Wallace Gray I — whose son, Capt. Wallace “Chubby” Gray II, 26, and crew member Wayne Young, 50, went down with the vessel — said he still has no answers as to why the Foxy Lady II’s emergency position indicating radio beacon, or EPIRB, did not activate, as Coast Guard officials have said.
The vessel monitoring system, which emits radio signals used primarily for NOAA and Coast Guard law enforcement tracking purposes, indicated the boat was 15 miles north of Provincetown on the night of Dec. 15.
While Gray said that dealing with different government agencies at a time of loss is stressful, the Coast Guard has done a “wonderful job” and has been very forthcoming. But Gray said he’s still expecting some explanation as to why the EPIRB did not activate, and was still waiting for an audio report regarding the sinking.
”I don’t know if I’ll ever have answers,” he said.
While both of the victims hail from Deer Isle, Maine, the Grays have a number of extended family members in Gloucester, and the boat was well known on the Gloucester waterfront. In that vein, the Gloucester Fishermen’s Wives Association and local clergy leaders hosted a vigil in honor of the men Dec. 22 in Gloucester.
The elder Gray’s comments come now as organizers are planning a memorial service for the Foxy Lady II’s crew members, to be held next Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Island Community Center in Stonington, Maine.
Angela Sanfillipo, president of the Gloucester Fisherman Wives’ Association, said association members plan on making the trip up to Maine to offer condolences to friends and family members, and the invitation is open for others within the Gloucester community to join in as well. The association has set up a memorial fund to benefit relatives of the crew members; donations for the Foxy Lady II Fund may be sent in care of BankGloucester, 160 Main St., Gloucester 01930.
The scalloping vessel left Gloucester for a day trip in on Dec. 15, but it was reported overdue on the 17th through a call from “Chubby” Gray’s girlfriend.
An unopened rescue pod from the Foxy Lady washed ashore in the marshes of Saugus on Dec. 18, about the time the Coast Guard called off the search and rescue operation in gale-force conditions. The search was resumed and eventually covered approximately 2,800 square miles of Massachusetts Bay.
In mid January, Coast Guard officials identified widespread wreckage from the vessel between Gloucester and Provincetown, but there was no sign of either crew member.
James Niedzinski can be reached at 978-283-7000, x 3455 or at email@example.com.