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Ipswich man rescued after boat capsizes

Fisherman spent 4 hours in ocean

By Amanda Cedrone
Globe Correspondent / October 4, 2011

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The Coast Guard rescued an Ipswich fisherman early yesterday after his boat capsized in choppy waters and he spent four hours in the ocean without a life jacket, officials said.

Benjamin Baker, 37, of Ipswich was found by the Coast Guard about 1 mile northeast of the Annisquam River in Ipswich Bay sometime after 1 a.m. Authorities said Baker had left on a fishing trip at 9 a.m. Sunday, and his boat overturned after it was battered by winds and waves. The fishing trip was recreational, said Ipswich police Lieutenant Daniel Moriarty.

“Boaters are reminded to use caution while boating, especially this late in the season,’’ said Lieutenant Michael Wolfe, Coast Guard Sector Boston command center chief. “Colder air and water temperature significantly reduce the amount of time people can survive in the water. If you are out on the water, we highly recommend you wear a life jacket,’’ he said.

Baker left Ipswich Town Landing for a daylong fishing trip on his 20-foot aluminum skiff. Ipswich police alerted Coast Guard Station Merrimack River in Newburyport when Baker had not returned by 1 a.m. Monday.

The Coast Guard began an immediate search. The Ipswich Fire Department and harbormaster also launched a search. Rescue crews found Baker 30 minutes into the search in 62-degree water, alive and responsive.

His boat was not found.

“The information we received from the family was instrumental in finding the fisherman,’’ Wolfe said. “We can’t stress enough how helpful it is to tell someone where you’re going and when you’ll be back. They were able to tell us where he typically fishes, which helped us to create an effective search area.’’

Baker was taken to Addison Gilbert Hospital in Gloucester and was in fair condition yesterday afternoon, said Gerald Mackillop, the hospital’s press relations manager.

Baker’s father told the Coast Guard that his son’s core body temperature was in the 80-degree range when he arrived at the hospital, but was up in the 90s within an hour.

The Coast Guard said there was a small craft advisory in effect when the man went missing, explaining that wind speeds can cause hazardous wave conditions to individuals operating a small vessel.

Amanda Cedrone can be reached at