Friday, Nov 6–Local Man Helps Save Three Sinking Ships

OCEAN CITY- A local man with a colorful past including work on the salvage of a 17th century Spanish galleon off the coast of Florida was pressed into salvage work of a different sort last week when he helped Coast Guard officials save three vessels from sinking in the bay in the area of 1st Street during a recent storm.

Ocean City resident Mike Ivey has, by his own admission, seen and done a lot of salvage work on historic wrecks off the coast of Florida including the famed Nuestra Senora de Atocha, a Spanish galleon loaded with treasure that went down off the Florida Keys in 1622. During a Nor’easter in late October, Ivey was pressed into a different kind of salvage service when three small vessels flooded and broke from their moorings in the water sports basin along the bay at 1st Street.

Ivey, who lives in a cottage near 1st Street, said last week he went to check on his recreational vehicle, a 1970s era Winnebago reportedly featured in the movie “Blow,” which he keeps parked along the bay at 1st Street when he discovered three vessels, including a Silverline center-console and two aluminum skiffs, had broken free in the storm and were sinking near the channel. The Coast Guard and Maryland Natural Resources POlice had arrived by boat and were attempting to salvage the three vessels when Ivey arrived on the scene.

According to the story, Ivey helped fashion a system of block and tackle out or rope and some wooden boards found nearby and was able to assist the Coast Guard in pulling the three boats out of the water and securing them to the docks nearby.

“Just as I arrived, the Coast Guard was trying to keep them from sinking and drifting into the channel nearby,” Ivey said last week. “I was able to fashion a tourniquet of sorts out of a board and some rope, which I clipped onto the largest of the three boats and managed to secure it to the docks. It took on a lot of water and it still has a lot of damage, but at least it’s out and safe for the time being.”

Ivey said he repeated the same procedure with the other two vessels, the much smaller aluminum skiffs, which remain tied to the bulkhead at the vacant marina on 1st Street.

Ivey’s rescue of the three sinking boats during the storm in late October was only his most recent and much less famous salvage efforts. He reportedly was part of the team, Treasure Salvors of Key West, led by famed treasure hunter and shipwreck salvager Mel Fisher, who was instrumental in recovering much of the loot on the famed “Atocha,” and was included in a feature film by National Geographic on the shipwreck.

Incidentally, Ivey’s girlfriend, Lisa Bergling, who was with him when he helped pull the three sinking vessels from the bay in Ocean City, has a connection with a shipwreck of a different sort. Bergling’s father was on the U.S.S. Arizona and survived when the battleship was sunk during the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.