Grounded Powerboat “Poco Loco” Towed Off Fisherman’s Beach

The 38-foot powerboat Poco Loco grounded at Fisherman’s Beach Saturday night with two people aboard who escaped from the vessel uninjured. 

Photo by Kit Noble

A salvage effort got underway Sunday morning, as crowds of islanders gathered along the south shore to watch crews from Towboat US and an excavator from Holdgate Partners operated by Nantucket resident Erik Hughes work to free the vessel. After hours of towing and digging in heavy surf, crews attached a tire to the bucket of the excavator so it could safely nudge the boat free from the sand, and the Poco Loco was back at sea around 1:40 p.m.

The Poco Loco is based on Martha’s Vineyard and owned by David Kadison, of Vineyard Haven, who was aboard the boat with his daughter when it grounded just after sunset Saturday, around 6:15 p.m. Harbormaster Sheila Lucey said the boat had been in Nantucket waters while it was participating in a fishing derby based on the Vineyard. It was headed back to its homeport when the boat’s autopilot system malfunctioned, Lucey said, resulting in it grounding on Fisherman’s Beach. 

Lucey and her staff, along with Nantucket police officers and a crew from Coast Guard Station Brant Point, all responded to scene after being notified of the incident. 

“A good Samaritan saw it and said it looks like they’re going to come up on the beach and they called,” Lucey said. “I didn’t realize the boat was as big as it was, and I said there’s no way it’s coming off tonight. We anchored the boat and secured it the best way we could, had the owner get off, and they ended up staying in a hotel in town.”

Lucey said Kadison contracted with Towboat US, which sent two vessels – one from Falmouth and another from Chatham – to help refloat the Poco Loco. They arrived along the south shore around 8:30 a.m. Sunday morning, and managed to tie lines to the grounded vessel. Lucey and her staff assisted with the effort from the beach, working with Kadison who was aboard the vessel. Meanwhile, Hughes arrived with the Holdgate Partners’ excavator a short time later and began digging around the boat to help free it from the beach. 

After nearly four hours of work, Hughes said it was island resident Ken Panacek who came up with the idea to attach a tire to the bucket of the excavator, allowing Hughes to nudge the Poco Loco free without damaging it. The boat was pulled free around 1:40 p.m.

On his Instagram page, Hughes said he got a call Sunday morning from Capt. Jada Reis of Towboat US who asked “hey man you busy, could use your help?”

I knew exactly why he was calling,” Hughes wrote. “I got the excavator and headed down to the beach which suddenly to my surprise the boat was nothing short of small. I made my way to the action and knew this was going to be one hell of a project for a Sunday. This was a team effort by far, both on land and out at sea. It was not about what I wanted to do, but about how to do this safely and most effectively. A lot of people have the answers but won’t take responsibility if they fail. Thank you Nantucket community for your help, it would not have been possible to get this boat back in the water without you.”

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