A female spaniel named Chesney was wet and tired but safe Monday morning after the captain of the commuter ferry Island Queen and the crew of a pleasure boat teamed up to save her from the chilly waters of Nantucket Sound.

Crew aboard Grady-White pulled dog from the sound with the aid of a net. — Leslie Souza

Chesney had fallen overboard from the Steamship Authority ferry Martha’s Vineyard en route to Woods Hole, it was discovered later. She was spotted by Capt. Ron Rock, who was at the helm of the Island Queen on the 10:30 a.m. run from Falmouth to Oak Bluffs. The ferry’s position was approximately a quarter mile east of Buoy 23; the time was 11 a.m., Captain Rock told the Gazette later. Chesney was about 100 yards off the port bow.

Captain Rock altered course and saw the dog was struggling. “The dog was spooked, panicked,” he said. “It was swimming erratically.”

He ordered his crew to emergency positions, but the Island Queen was too big to get close enough to save the dog.

He saw a small pleasure craft, the Lovely Day, approximately a quarter mile away and signaled with the horn. Passengers aboard the Island Queen shouted to the boat as well. Lovely Day, a 25-foot Grady-White, was able to get close to the struggling dog and used a net to pull her out of the water.

Leslie Souza, home on leave from the Marine Corps and vacationing with her family in Falmouth, had decided to come to the Vineyard Monday on the Island Queen, and witnessed the rescue. Ms. Souza said when her sister spotted the dog, she thought it was a seal. Once they realized it was a dog, everyone on the ferry gathered to watch the rescue attempts.

Lovely Day to the rescue. — Leslie Souza

“It was very nerve wracking,” Ms. Souza said. “You could see the dog almost knew to come toward us.”

As Captain Rock signaled with the horn, passengers aboard the Island Queen shouted and waved at the Lovely Day to get the crew’s attention, Ms. Souza said. Once the dog was hoisted into the boat, the ferry passengers cheered.

When they arrived in Oak Bluffs, Island Queen passengers stood on the bulkhead cheering.

Rescuers aboard Lovely Day brought the dog into the Oak Bluffs harbor, where Captain Rock had alerted harbor master Todd Alexander and animal control officer Anthony Bendavid.

Mr. Alexander greeted Chesney at the dock, rinsing her off and offering her food and water. She still had her collar and leash attached he said. He called the Steamship Authority to see if anyone was missing a dog. At first they said no, but then called back saying yes. Chesney’s family was searching for her aboard the ferry.

Mr. Alexander transported Chesney in his own boat to the Falmouth harbor where she was reunited with her family.

“The father, who apparently had the dog when it got loose, was not the most popular member of the family at the time,” Mr. Alexander said. The owners told Mr. Alexander that Chesney loves the water.

The harbor master said it was lucky it was a calm day; if there had been whitecaps, the dog may not have been spotted.

Captain Rock said he’s never seen a dog swimming in the Nantucket Sound, but he didn’t think twice about trying to save it.

“That’s what we’d do for any person, any dog,” he said.

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