The first person to reach a woman who had fallen overboard from a luxury cruise ship passing off Cape Ann on Friday night knew what he wanted to find.
“I was hoping we would find someone raising their arms and waving,” Mike Burbank, skipper of the Rockport-based fishing vessel Kaybur Too, said Monday. “That’s what we were hoping, at least.”
But Burbank said the VHF call for a “man overboard” that came from captain of the 650-foot, 11-deck Seabourn Quest indicated that the person who had fallen into the Atlantic Ocean had already been in the water 23 minutes.
So Burbank’s Kaybur Too responded to the call from the ship with the U.S. Coast Guard and Rockport harbormasters Rosemary Lesch and Scott Story. But when he and a crew mate spotted a “white object” drifting in the tide rip some eight miles off Rockport, they knew it was too late.
They had located the body of a 59-year-old woman who the distress call said had fallen from the Seabourn Quest’s deck, and he in turn called in Lesch and Story, who were closest to him and recovered the body.
The woman’s identity had not been released as of Monday, and officials with Seabourn Cruise Lines, a Seattle-based affiliate of Holland America under Carnival PLC of London, did not return requests from the Times for comment.
The office of the Massachusetts Medical Examiner will be conducting an autopsy, according to the Associated Press, which confirmed the woman’s age.
The FBI continued Monday to carry out an “ongoing investigation” into the incident, according to a statement from its spokesperson, Kristen M. Setera of the agency’s Boston field office.
“The FBI has jurisdiction over any incident on the high seas. As such, the FBI is dedicating resources and working jointly with the US Coast Guard to investigate the incident on Friday night,” Setera said. She declined any further comment.