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Day sail proves fatal after weather turns

AUG. 24 — Two men from Owls Head, Maine, died last Wednesday after their 19-foot sailboat, a Pearson Hawk, sank in Penobscot Bay.

The body of John Syrett was found at about 7:45 a.m. Thursday and the body of Peter Brauman was found at noon, the Coast Guard says. Both men were wearing life jackets when they were discovered, but the state medical examiner on Friday determined they drowned.

“There’s really no way for us to know how they drowned,” says Sgt. Marlowe Sonksen with the Maine Marine Patrol.

Although the weather was mild during the day the wind turned gusty in the afternoon. “[This] might have been a contributing factor as to why their boat sank,” Sonksen says. The water temperature in Penobscot Bay was about 60 degrees and could also have been a factor in the drownings, according to Sonksen.

“These guys did everything right. They went for a sail on a beautiful day and were wearing life jackets, but still something went wrong,” he says.

The men, who Sonksen describes as in their early 60s, left Owls Head at about 1 p.m. Wednesday for a short sail around Monroe and Sheep Islands, a news report says. The Coast Guard launched the cutter Tackle as well as a 25-foot rescue boat, a jet and a helicopter to help in the search.

The men didn’t have a cell phone or radio on board, the report says, so no distress call was made. The sunken boat has yet to be located.

Jason Fell