by Sue Giustino
Montauk Local, Captain Chuck ‘Chuckie’ Morici had much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, after a close call with his 60-foot trawler Act I. The trouble began around 10 am on November 15 th , about 15 miles from home. After leaving Montauk a few hours earlier, he was fishing porgy near Watch Hill, R.I. when he started taking on water; the leak originated under the keel cooler pipe. He attempted to plug it, and pump it out with the two pumps he had on the boat, but to no avail- the water was pouring in too fast.
He told me that being a Montauk volunteer firefighter, his training kicked in and he ‘kept his cool’. However, fearing the worse, he sent up flares, secured his crew with brand new survival suits, and called to Capt. Dave Aripotch who was fishing nearby. Dave quickly came to bring the crew to safety- Chuck stayed with his boat. In the meantime, three Coast Guard Stations were called to assist; Montauk, New London, and Newport. As we spoke, he was reflecting on the experience and said, “Sinking is kind of like watching your house burn down.” As he waited, he was thinking about what to take off his boat that he’s owned and invested in for about 16 years. Although there were thousands of dollars of equipment on board, all he could come up with was to take a picture of his mom.
As soon as word got back to Montauk, 85-year-old Charlie Morici, Chuckies father, called on
Christopher Carillo, his father Vincent Carillo, and Charlie Weimar: and without hesitation, they sped on Carillo’s speedboat the 15 miles out to give their support. “That’s what we do,” he commented. “I was one of the first of many boats who joined the search for Johnny, from the Anna Mary back in 2013. We are there for each other.” When the Coast Guard arrived, it wasn’t clear whether or not they could save the boat. At one point, they told him to Abandon Ship, Chuck replied, “Not unless my x-wife shows up.” Ed Taylor, a machinery technician from Montauk’s Coast Guard Station swam down to insert a wooden plug in the hull, allowing the Coast Guard pumps to succeed. Thanks to Ed, they were able to stop the boat from sinking.
Due to the water damaging some of the electrical systems, the boat’s engine stopped working as they headed to nearby J. Goodison Shipyard in North Kingstown, R.I. Fortunately, the Newport and Rhode Island Coast Guard was shadowing the Act I so they were on hand to tow it the rest of the way to the shipyard.
The damage to his boat is extensive and currently being repaired. They need to flush the transmission and engine, and replace the starter, alternator, battery, refrigeration unit, and the electrical system. “But” Capt. Morice repeated numerous times, “that’s only stuff, no one got hurt. The water temperature was 53 degrees that day, but God and my mom were on my side, we all made it.”
Chuckie wants to wish a very Merry Christmas to the Montauk, New London, and Newport Coast Guard Stations, without whom, he said, “I would have gone down.” In addition, he is thankful to everyone who has reached out to see if he needs anything. He wishes everyone a Merry Christmas and said that he knows there are many people who have lost lots more and deal with worse hardships. He is asking for donations, not for himself, but to St. Jude’s www.stjude.org or a local church. St. Jude’s Children’s
Hospital is where he likes to donate, so I asked him why. He replied, “Kids and families at St. Jude’s deal with childhood cancers, that can feel like a ‘sinking ship’ 24 hours a day.”
Noting over and over that it’s Christmas time, it was apparent to me that he’s looking on the bright side and focusing on what he can do for others. Similarly, on three occasions during COVID, Chuckie brought a truckload of fish to the center of town to give to families in need. Helping others and giving back is what the community of Montauk does; can it help take the focus off of your own problems? I would say absolutely. Life has a way of putting things in perspective if you just take a look around.