The Harrowing Tale Behind Our Latest Release
The story of the Misty Dawn Saison begins 24 years ago, on the roof of a wooden boat 20 miles out to sea. It was a cold November night, and Mop Man stood on this roof along with his brother Jimmy, waiting to go down with the ship.
“My son Ryan is still in therapy over this incident,” Mop Man says.
Earlier that day, the two men along with 10-year-old Ryan had boarded the Misty Dawn, a 46-foot Chesapeake Bay Bottom boat docked at Cape May’s Canyon Club, or what was then called Cape Island Marina. The guys geared up for a day of reeling in blue fish, dolphin, or whatever happened to be biting in the open ocean. Mop Man had purchased the old clamming boat 10 years prior, and had taken countless fishing trips since that time. No one expected this day to be any different.
But as Mop Man steered the Misty Dawn out of Cape May’s harbor and along the canal that connects this body of water with the Delaware Bay, a deafening noise reverberated across the deck. The keel of the boat, which ran bow to stern and formed the very foundation of theMisty Dawn, had completely rotted off below the surface, striking a propeller and piercing the bottom of the vessel. Mop Man raised the hatch to see his worst fear confirmed – water shooting into the cabin at a startling pace.
“I knew she was destined for the bottom,” he says. “We turned around and headed back to the marina, but officials there told us they couldn’t help. Without a keel, there was no way to remove the Misty Dawn from the water via the traditional method — a giant sling – at least not without snapping the boat in half. We didn’t have much time. She was still taking on water; the pump was running constantly. What were we going to do? Leave her to sink in the harbor at any moment and create a big ecological mess?”
The men got to work immediately, emptying the fuel tank and removing everything from the boat that could be carried off. Then, they set off on their last journey aboard the Misty Dawn, determined to get her as far into the ocean as possible before the inevitable. Before they weighed anchor, they put Ryan on a 40-foot sailboat with an employee of the marina and asked them to follow behind.
“This was before GPS, before cell phones,” Mop Man says. “We gave them a general direction, and hoped they would find us.”
By the time the engines gave out 20 miles later, it was well after dark. But under the moonlight, the brothers could still see how dire their situation had become. Without any flotation devices – “What good does a life vest do in frigid water?” – they climbed onto the Misty Dawn’s roof above a 17-by-20-foot steering room where a bathroom and kitchenette were nearly engulfed by water. For 30 minutes they waited, desperately searching for the sailboat that would rescue them.
“I remember thinking: we should probably have a life raft on board,” Mop Man says.
After a half-an-hour, the sailboat did turn up, and the brothers were able to leap to safety from the top of the Misty Dawn, which had about 30 minutes left before it, too, would be covered by ocean.
“It was a pretty traumatizing experience to see my father holding a pick-axe and standing on a sinking boat,” Ryan says.
A few days later, pieces of the Misty Dawn washed up on Cape May’s beach, and Mop Man loaded them onto his truck.
“It’s a little embarrassing to think about now,” he says. “The whole thing nearly gave my wife a heart attack, and my brother has not gone fishing with me since. But no one got killed, so there’s that.”
As for a refreshing Saison to commemorate the sinking of the Misty Dawn?
“I like it,” Mop Man says. “I like it a lot.”
Is our new release worth going down with the ship? See for yourself in our tasting room, beginning today at noon.