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Interviewee: Shawn Sipple

Role: Retired Commercial Fisherman

Date of Interview: 9/26/04

Collection: Working Waterfront Festival Community Documentation Project

Click on the link below to play the audio clip from the interviewee.

Abstract: New Bedford scalloper Shawn Sipple tells about being caught in a storm.

Transcript: "One of the scariest times of my life, was I believe it was, I don't know sixteen years ago, it was about Thanksgiving Day, Thanksgiving, somewhere within there. And we decided to go out. We decided that we weren't gonna spend Thanksgiving with our families, this was something that we needed to do. We got stuck in George's Bank with winds over 120 miles per hour and we did nothing but hold on to the boat for four days. I'm talking literally hold, there was no fishing--we put our drags to the bottom of the ocean to anchor the boat. Luckily enough, the boat was one of the best in the world--it was brand new at the time, It was a state of the line boat; they were both built in Booth Bay, Maine and if I was on any other boat, I wouldn't be here right now. But you know I spent four days gathering with my crew, which was eight guys at that time...eight to nine guys. And we never hired anybody, we were all one steady crew, when somebody took a trip off-another family member would come in. There was no people that we didn't know. We never did that. And you could see actually 5-6 story building waves coming toward you from the rear, wiping the whole boat out and there was nothing we could do. Ok. There was no Coast Guard, there was nothing...it was beyond that...Even the Coast Guard couldn't come help you. And you just wondered when it was gonna to stop. And finally after I think the second or third day, we were able to get radio contact and I contacted my wife, which was very concerned. And you know she was just ecstatic to hear from me. I said, "We're still laying" that's what it was called, "laying," you just stayed there, I said "I think the worst is over...we still haven't heard anything because we lost our radios, we lost everything." You know it's times like that where it doesn't become a job, it becomes your life...you know?"

To read Shawn's full transcript, click here.