SWAMPSCOTT (CBS) – The Swampscott Harbormaster towed the “Flying Colors” off of King’s Beach shortly before eight o’clock Wednesday night. The boat had to be removed from the spot in the sand where she came to rest hours earlier, after her captain lost his life trying to tie her down.

“I just think it’s really sad that had to happen,” said witness Pia Panagopolous. “He just tried to save his boat that was right there.”

According to Swampscott Harbormaster Larry Bithell, the vessel somehow came off her mooring very early Wednesday morning.

Prepping for more bad weather, the boat’s owner, who police have not yet publicly identified, chose to swim out and get the boat back where it belonged.

A man died trying to save this boat in Swampscott (WBZ-TV)

A man died trying to save this boat in Swampscott (WBZ-TV)

“I know he was dropped off from a friend of mine to pick up his boat,” explained witness Chris Panagopolous, “and after that he noticed that he wasn’t being seen and he called for help.”

“From what we understand he had a life-preserver on and was swimming out to the boat and people didn’t realize he was in distress,” said Swampscott Police Sargent Timothy Cassidy.

The Harbormaster tells WBZ he watched the victim tie the life jacket to his belt to keep his hands free.

The body of a boater was recovered off Swampscott (Photo courtesy: Larisa Forman)

The body of a boater was recovered off Swampscott (Photo courtesy: Larisa Forman)

Witnesses saw the life jacket float away after about 15 minutes and sent out a launch from the Swampscott Yacht Club to recover the victim’s body.

Rescuers performed CPR back on the dock, to no avail. Locals say the 54-year-old man was a former football coach at Swampscott High School and has three children who live out of the country with his ex-wife.

A friend of his, who did not want to be identified, said the victim was a very strong swimmer, and may have hit his head or had a heart attack while trying to get to his boat.

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