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Sailors Undeterred After Rescue Off Montauk

Wed, 05/15/2024 - 22:04
Elisha Brockenberry, left, and Desmond Ntseh hit some rough waters last month while sailing down the East Coast from Connecticut.

A pair of sailors who paid an unexpected visit to Montauk last month said from Brooklyn on Friday that they plan to continue their voyage down the East Coast despite an April 24 rescue off Montauk’s downtown ocean beach.

East Hampton Town Police dispatchers got a call a few minutes after 10 a.m. that day about a sailboat drifting in the breakwater about 150 feet off the shore near Bounce Beach.

The Coast Guard was called in to assist Marine Patrol as it rescued the two distressed sailors, who described themselves on the radio as feeling sick and cold. One of them had a bleeding cut on his hand after maneuvering some rope, and they had found themselves without an engine that had otherwise been working just fine for nine days prior.

“We had been sailing for a while, so we were tired,” said Desmond Ntseh of West Haven, Conn., who is sailing down the East Coast for the first time with a friend, Elisha Brockenberry of Bridgeport. Speaking by phone from Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, several days later, he recounted his story. “We wanted to go closer to the shore and get some rest, but we didn’t know that the surf was very high. We were getting hit by some high waves, and we thought we could stay there and wait for the water to go down and the tide to change, but in that area it was still going to be a lot. Some people saw us struggling from the beach — they saw the boat getting bounced around — and called the police.”

“The next dock was six hours away so we would have either had to go farther out, or back two hours,” Ms. Brockenberry added. “We didn’t have too much of a choice.”

Mr. Ntseh, 28, said he had only recently acquired the sailboat, a 25-foot Catalina called Argo. “I always wanted to be a sailor. I learned to sail in the Caribbean, but I came back to Connecticut. When this opportunity came and I saw the boat, I said, ‘Do I want to stay here or do I want to live out my dreams?’ “

The morning they ran into trouble, they donned life vests and radioed for help. East Hampton’s Marine Patrol unit grabbed the stern of the sailboat and began towing it, with the Coast Guard later stepping in to take them to Montauk Harbor. They stayed two nights at Kenny’s Tipperary Inn because of inclement weather.

For both Mr. Ntseh and Ms. Brockenberry, it was their first-ever visit to Montauk.

“We liked it,” Ms. Brockenberry said. “Maybe on our way back or at some other point in time, we’ll come back.”

Mr. Ntseh added, “It’s an interesting little town. The more time you spend there, the more things pop up. We were there just two days, but we met some interesting folks who build boats. I could tell you need to be there long enough to see the flow.”

He acknowledged he and Ms. Brockenberry are still just getting their sea legs, but said, “We’ll keep going until the boat tells us she needs a break or we need one,” he said. “The water is teaching us something, and until welearn it we’re not going to get off. We’re still figuring it out. Patience is one of the lessons, because you cannot control the ocean. You have to be patient and be calm under stress.”

“It was wild,” Ms. Brockenberry concluded. “We’d only ever been in the Long Island Sound. It was our first encounter with the true ocean. You see howenigmatic it is, and how, depending on your response, it can be life or death.”


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