Even at the age of 69, Capt. Jean Frottier never considered coming permanently ashore. A fisherman retire? Unthinkable.
“The sea is a hard thing — something about the water, it just gets in your blood,” Jack Clark, a fellow fisherman and friend of Frottier’s, told the Boston Globe. “And once it’s in your blood, you can’t get far from it.”
Frottier, a longtime fisherman known across Provincetown, Mass., is presumed dead after his vessel, the Twin Lights, capsized Sunday 2.5 miles off the coast of Race Point. His body has not been recovered.
Frottier’s friends and fellow fishermen, many of whom have spent much of their lives by his side at MacMillan Pier, said they are devastated by the loss of a man who served as an emblem for so much of what is special about their lifestyle.
“If anybody could have gotten out of that boat it would have been Jean Frottier,” Vaughn Cabral, captain of the Cee-Jay fishing boat, told the paper.
Coast Guard officials said they are still investigating the circumstances that led to the capsizing of Frottier’s boat. At the dock where his 42-foot scalloping boat was once moored, friends said they knew the general timeline: On a clear Sunday morning, just off the northwest tip of Provincetown, Frottier’s scallop dredge got caught in a line of lobster traps. The weight of the stuck dredge tugged at the boat, causing it to capsize.
When a nearby fishing vessel raced to the scene, Frottier’s mate, the only other person on the vessel, was clinging to the boat’s hull. As the boat began to submerge, Frottier was nowhere to be seen.
Chief John Harker, the Coast Guard officer in charge of the Provincetown station, said that in the dozen hours after the accident Coast Guard and Massachusetts State Police rescue teams searched for miles around the spot of the capsizing without finding Frottier. Harker said officials are nearly certain that the captain was trapped inside.
The boat lies more than 200 feet below the surface, Harker said. It would be impossible for the state’s dive team to reach that depth. Instead, authorities have used side-scan sonar to identify the vessel’s location on the ocean floor. Next, Harker said, a remotely operated submarine, affixed with mechanical arms and a camera, will probably be used to assess the best way to free the boat from the sea floor.
The family is asking that in lieu of flowers a donation be made to the Frottier Family Fund established at Seaman's Bank to assist Jean's daughter, Annalise, in continuing her college education.