Unsecured gear became loose and hit an emergency stop button, causing the Rhode Island Fast Ferry to lose power as she left Oak Bluffs early Sunday afternoon, company owner Charles Donadio said.

The gear was a portable heater used as an auxiliary window heater, a press release said.

Speaking to the Gazette by phone Wednesday, Mr. Donadio said there are six emergency stop buttons located in the wheelhouse of the catamaran, the newest member of the Rhode Island fleet.

The Ava Pearl lost power at 11:45 a.m. Sunday just after leaving the Oak Bluffs harbor en route to North Kingstown, R.I., with 75 passengers aboard.

The anchor was deployed, and over the next two hours the ferry was towed to Packer’s Wharf in Vineyard Haven with the assistance of the Coast Guard and Sea Tow, a private marine towing company.

No one was injured in the incident, which occurred during rough weather conditions with four-foot seas and strong onshore winds.

Passengers were later ferried to the mainland via the Steamship Authority and transported to Rhode Island in vehicles.

Mr. Donadio said the company will take immediate steps to put covers on six emergency stop buttons located in the wheelhouse of the catamaran. “That’s something that should have been done and we’re taking steps to address it immediately,” he said.

The press release reiterated praise for the quick action by the captain and crew to keep the passengers and vessel safe.

It also said: “We are working to update internal company operational guidelines to ensure similar incidents do not occur in the future. Our company has operated over 13,000 trips in the last 17 years to/from Martha’s Vineyard with very few trips canceled due to mechanical causes. We pride ourselves on a flawless safety record and look forward to providing safe, reliable service between the mainland and Martha’s Vineyard for many years to come.”