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Swims Through Sharks


Swims Through Sharks To Save His Shipmate

A 60-year-old swordfisherman was safely back home in Gloucester today thanks to the heroism of a younger shipmate who dove overboard to save him.  Lee Cavanaugh's account of what happened just before noon Monday, August  11 about 30 miles south-southwest of Nantucket Light.

"I was out in my dory when the boat started to run me down.  When I saw the bowsprit over my head, I went overboard to save my life."  Cavanaugh said he kicked off his boots but that heavy oil skins were pulling him under.  Sam Lovasco saw Cavanaugh floundering in the water.  Sam kicked off his boots and dove over.  He swam some 15 years to the dory, rowed it to the side of the nearly-exhausted Cavanaugh and hauled him aboard.

From his room on Hancock Street today, a grateful Cavanaugh heaped praise upon Lovasco; "he had a lot of guts.  He saved my life.  He had a lot of guts jumping into the water full of sharks."

Cavanaugh, a good swimmer, said that he gad gone down twice from exhaustion and the heavy clothing.  "When Sam got the boat, I reached up once but couldn't make it."  Lovasco made a second grab and hauled Cavanaugh into the dory.  "What else could I do?  When I saw the bowsprit over my head I figured I had to do something quick," said Cavanaugh.  The Tina B. apparently glanced off the dory - with one swordfish in it - without damaging it, according to Cavanaugh.

Lovasco was modest about his heroism.  "What else could I do.  I had to go over after him."  Lovasco said the seas were calm and the water warm.  "It was beautiful for swimming.   I guess it's all right to joke about it now, but it sure wasn't funny when it happened." Lovasco substantiated Cavanaugh's claim that the water was "full of sharks."

According to Sam, "We'd been seeing them all day."  He said that luckily, no sharks bothered him nor Cavanaugh while they were in the water.  Cavanaugh said he must have been in the water "four or five minutes" before Sam saved him.

Lovasco recounted this dialogue between himself and Cavanaugh when Sam brought the dory alongside the tiring Cavanaugh: "I said C'mon, let's go.  He said 'Wait a minute, let me catch my breath' and in the next instant he said 'Nope, you better haul me in before the sharks get me'."

The Tina B. docked in Boston yesterday with a trip of 87 swordfish, worth just under $300 to each crew member.  The ship is skippered by Simplicio Bichao of Gloucester.


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