Capt. Dave Marciano, one of the stars of the Gloucester-based “Wicked Tuna” reality television show, saw his business reality take a wicked turn over the weekend.
Marciano found his fishing vessel, Hard Merchandise, submerged at the dock at the Gloucester Marine Railways in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Marciano, a lifelong fisherman, said in an interview at the dock Monday that he received a call from the U.S. Coast Guard around 1 a.m. Sunday saying that the agency had received a “ping” from the vessel’s Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB), which activates when a vessel hits the water.
At the time, Marciano said, he was at his Beverly home watching “Moonshiners,” another reality television show.
“I was on the couch starting to nod and was planning on going to bed when I got the call,” he said. “The Coast Guard said it wasn’t getting good positioning on the ping and wanted to know if the boat was out fishing and if there was an emergency.
“I told them the boat was at the dock and I was going right over,” he said. “When I got there, all I saw was the antenna sticking out of the water — and that’s not a good feeling.”
Near the end of the effort to pull the boat out of the water, Marciano said crews found a break in a thru-hull fitting that caused the 36-foot fiberglass boat to fill up with water and sink.
“This could have let go 100 miles off shore. That’s the blessing, because this could have happened when we were out fishing and there would have been no way to stop it completely, although I could slow it down with a pump,” said Marciano, who recalled being on a sinking vessel in the past.
On Jan. 13, 2004, he was on his 38-foot wooden fishing vessel, the wooden Angelica Joseph, about 16 miles off shore when a plank opened up and the boat started taking on water.
“It’s a hazard of wooden boats. We were returning from Jeffrey’s Ledge, and that boat sank in 33 minutes,” recalled Marciano. “There was another fishing vessel on the scene, the Partner, that plucked us out of the water. After that experience, I found this boat.”
He also lost 10,000 pounds of fish when the previous boat sank, but Marciano and the crew — Gloucester residents Shawn Doyle and Sarah Pyndus — escaped without injury.
In the Hard Merchandise sinking, efforts began to raise the vessel and pump it out once daylight arrived Sunday morning.
First, oil booms were deployed. But Marciano noted that, fortunately, most of the fuel was gone after his last fishing trip so there was little or no environmental impact. Divers entered the water to install deflated bags under the bow, after which air was pumped into the bags to bring the boat to the surface. Once the rails were above water, they began using the pumps.
“We started at 8 a.m. and by 3 p.m. it was up on the sling,” said Marciano. “We will salvage what we can. The engine is the priority, and the hull integrity seems OK.”
Marciano was back at the Railways Monday with his first mate, Jason Muenzner, who is also his nephew, clearing the boat.
Until 2010, when fishing regulations changed, Marciano would have been fishing all year long. But this year, he would have worked on other boats until April when he starts his charter business again in the spring.
“We had a good season and the plan was to coast until after the holidays and relax a little bit. But that’s not going to happen and we will be in a scramble mode,” said Marciano.
“I am insured, and we will rebuild,” he said. “This will become part of my story.”
Part of that story begins again with the second season of the National Geographic Channel’s hit “Wicked Tuna,” scheduled to air some time beginning in January. In fact, the show was filming Marciano’s recovery at the dock on Monday.
Gail McCarthy can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3445, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.