Watermen help raise the sunken ‘Lady K’

Submitted to Dorchester Banner Divers volunteered to work all day to attach floats to bring the sunken vessel to the surface. Daniel Wilson from Tilghman Island is seen in the center.

Submitted to Dorchester Banner
Divers volunteered to work all day to attach floats to bring the sunken vessel to the surface. Daniel Wilson from Tilghman Island is seen in the center.

COOK POINT — “When we got the call, it was 4:21 a.m. It was blowing a gale.”
That’s how Tilghman Island Volunteer Fire Company Captain Nick Craig remembered the incident that began on Saturday morning. Todd Haddaway’s “Lady K” was taking on water fast at the mouth of the Choptank River, after breaking a board on her bottom.
In the dark. In the middle of the river. In high winds.
That’s how the story of a tragedy sometimes begins, but not this time. Maybe because when Dorchester and Talbot county watermen hear that one of their own is in trouble, they drop what they’re doing – which at 4:21 a.m. means they were earning their living – and they go help.
By the time Tilghman VFC’s Rescue 70 boat arrived alongside the stricken craft, her captain had already been picked up by Tilghman Island VFC’s Chief Billy Lednum. Chief Lednum, a fellow waterman, happened to be working in the area, heard the radio call and responded.
Capt. Craig said the crew of Rescue 70 saw that the “Lady K’s,” stern was sitting on the bottom 20 feet below, but an air pocket kept her bow above the waves.
With the wind coming from the northeast at 18-20 knots, the rescue workers decided it was too rough to begin refloating the workboat, and to return about 1 p.m. “We went back out there, bagged it and towed it in,” Capt. Craig said.
Hard work and help
Maybe that’s the modesty of a man who is used to hard work. He almost makes it sound easy.
It wasn’t.
“Benny [Horseman’s] boat pulled the ‘Lady K’ and Chris Weber’s boat was pulling Benny to add more horsepower,” Capt. Craig said. “Parts of the boat were still underwater a little bit, so they took the plywood of Chris Weber and Bo Hughes’ stern rack for their crab pots, and made a makeshift side higher. You can have the biggest pump in the world, but unless you have the sides out of the water you can’t pump it out. Water will just keep rushing in.”
Once they got the makeshift side built – Rescue 70 donated some lumber, too – the work continued.
“We could pump her out with the rescue boat’s system, which can pump 500-600 gallons per minute,” Capt. Craig said. “Once it was all pumped out, Brucie Lowery’s clam boat rafted beside her in case she started taking on water again on the way home.”
A great team effort
By then, Rescue 70, another boat from Tilghman, and three from Dorchester County had pitched in to get the job done. The Dorchester vessels were Bo Hughes’ “Sydney Elizabeth,” Chris Weber’s “Lucky IV,” and Benny Horseman’s “Miss Mary.”
“Two divers swam down with flotation bags used for marine salvage. With the bags hooked securely to the vessel and filled with air she was floating enough to tow to shallower water,” a statement on Tilghman Island Day Boat Docking & Races’ social media page said. “That’s when Boat 70 was able to pump the boat out. It was a great team effort. Special thanks to Brucie Lowery, Benny Horseman, Bo Hughes, and Chris Weber and their crews, who spent their whole afternoon helping a fellow waterman.”
The cooperative crisis response earned wide praise.
John Elliott wrote, “We were down Holland Straits when we heard it on the VHF. Chris and Bo are good people. Benny and Alex are good at just about everything. That’s how we gotta be in Dorchester. If we don’t look out for each other, no one else will.”
Earl Lumpkins wrote, “Thanks to all. I don’t know any of you, but when people are in dire need, if we can’t take time and lend a hand to help, then what are we here for?”

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