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A Day in the Life
Photo: Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
Long Island Sound was like glass, so much so that Westport’s (CT) police craft Marine 1 barely bobbed when the motors, twin Evinrude 300 outboards, quieted. From his perch, Officer Brendan Fearon, Westport’s senior marine officer, stared out at the necklace of islands fronting Compo Beach: Cockenoe, Seymour’s Rock, Sprite, and Grassy Islands. It was a boater’s dream.
“It’s definitely not a vacation,” Fearon, 31, stressed. “A lot of people say, ‘You have the best job in the world' but when stuff goes bad out here, it goes bad quickly. This day was different though, quiet after the long Fourth of July weekend, “the kind of day you can sit back and thank God for all you’ve got.” It was not like that on June 30 when the storm that ravaged southern Westport took its toll on the water, too. “We had a 31-foot sailboat sink where four people went into the water, and another person capsized a 13-foot Boston Whaler inside Cockenoe Harbor,” Fearon said. “They swam to shore,” he said about the whaler’s occupants. “They were stranded but said they were OK. They could right it, and we had somebody tow it back.”
On July 1, Fearon received a call that a man who went out on his Hobie Cat did not come back. Fearon said he recovered the Hobie on its side, a mile-and-a-half out, “but not the operator, so we started doing search patterns in the direction of the wind and currents,” he said. While searching, Marine 1 received a radio call from a boat called Momentum that they found someone floating near Cockenoe Reef. The Hobie Cat’s owner was rescued. Every time Fearon and his colleagues save someone, they mark a slash on the whiteboard in their office at the Ned Dimes Marina. Since Memorial Day weekend, 26 marks have gone up on the board.
A native of Shelton, Fearon says his love for the sea was fostered in Westport at Compo Beach where he swam as a boy. After graduating from St. Joseph’s Catholic High School in Trumbull, he headed to the Massachusetts Maritime Academy in Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts. He joined the Westport Police Department in March 2014, transferring from the Monroe Police Department.
Two year ago, he took the helm as marine officer. “On the water I preach safety,” he said. Not that he wants to be a killjoy since he wants people to enjoy boating, but he will do safety checks to make sure a boat is not overcrowded and to see if occupants have life jackets, be they sailboats, motorboats, Jet Skis, kayaks or paddleboards. He said that U.S. Coast Guard data shows that “in the Long Island Sound, we’ve had more paddleboard deaths than from boats.”
And there’s something else boaters and swimmers should be aware of, he said. “We’re seeing sharks in the Sound for the first time in 60 years because the water’s getting cleaner,” he said. “And, we had a humpback whale last year.” Earlier this season, he said, a great white shark was spotted traveling to Greenwich. Fearon, who is on board daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., welcomes all of the challenges that come with his seafaring job.
“I enjoy it because it’s a very dynamic world,” he said.
The above was excerpted from "Westportnow" to read the full story follow the link below.