NARRAGANSETT, R.I. (WPRI) – Bill Speth and four of his friends are still trying to figure out what exactly crashed into his boat as they were fishing off the coast of Rhode Island over the weekend.
Speth said the group was out on his boat catching tuna Sunday, near Block Island, when all of a sudden, something slammed into it.
“It was like an explosion,” he recalled. “My battery switches and my two main breakers … just shattered. The boat lost all power.”
Speth said one of his friends fell overboard during the impact, and a hole had been punctured in the side of his boat. All five men had to be rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard.
“All of us were in disbelief, I mean, it’s just so very hard to explain,” he said.
Speth, who’s from Montauk, New York, said he’s been fishing off the coast of Block Island for more than a decade and tells WPRI that it isn’t uncommon to see whales and dolphins swimming around.
That’s why he believes it may have been a whale that rocked his boat, especially since there was plenty of commotion in the ocean beforehand.
“All of a sudden, the dolphins and the whales just went into this feeding frenzy, they just went crazy,” Speth recalled.
“I’ve seen the whales or dolphins that active before, but I’ve never seen one hit a boat,” he continued. “I’ve heard of boats hitting whales, but we were drifting and the whale hit me.”
Speth said he had his boat towed, and he and his friends took a ferry home.
That same day, Rhode Island native Dale Denelle was flying his drone over the dolphins and whales prior to the Coast Guard’s arrival.
When asked whether he saw any whales in the area at the time of the incident, he claims there were several. He also noted it was odd to see multiple whales eating together.
While a spokesperson for the U.S. Coast Guard tells WPRI that crews did not see any whales during their initial search, she said it “doesn’t mean they didn’t collide with one.”
The spokesperson said the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has been notified and they are working to confirm if a whale hit the boat.