9/11’s maritime heroes

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I had intended to write a piece today about how we’ve all grown more stress-hardy in the three years since Lehman Brothers collapsed — “we” being the industry and the boating public. But I changed course after watching an e-mailed video from boatbuilder Ken Fickett, who owns Mirage Manufacturing, the builder of Great Harbour trawlers.

“Boatlift” is a short documentary film about the remarkable evacuation by boat of more than 500,000 people in nine hours from the seawalls of lower Manhattan on Sept. 11, 2001. The numbers eclipse those of the famous retreat from Dunkirk during World War II. Eddie Rosenstein produced the film, and Tom Hanks narrated it. It premiered at the Center for National Policy’s 9/11 Ten Year Anniversary Summit in Washington, D.C.

The piece shows “our guys” — the captains and crews of tugs, ferries, excursion boats, party boats, pleasure boats, you name it — performing bravely and competently during one of this country’s darkest, most unsettled moments. With New York in the throes of fear, these men and women raced smack into uncertainty to assist their shocked brethren, who were desperate to flee the island. Their actions amid the chaos were Herculean and heroic.

The film opens with the unforgettable voice of Vincent Ardolino, captain of the Amberjack V, a 92-foot excursion boat.

The evacuation never really got the attention it deserved, but this short film goes a long way toward elevating the efforts of those who took part that day. You’ll be moved by this production.