New Hampshire

Couple Rescued From Yacht Fire in NH Harbor Talk About ‘Harrowing' Experience

Arthur "Kitt" Watson and his wife Diane said they lost everything when their yacht, Too Elusive, went up in flames Saturday

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Arthur "Kitt" Watson and his wife Diane could only watch Saturday as their home -- a more than 70-foot yacht -- went up in flames.

The pair and their first mate Jarrod Tubbs, as well as the Watson's two Goldendoodles, had jumped into the cold Piscataqua River after flames and thick black smoke started pouring from their vessel, Too Elusive.

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The Watsons spoke to NBC New York's Adam Harding virtually on Sunday from Maine where they are staying with family for the time being as they figure out what to do next.

The couple had been living on their boat for over a year with their two dogs and Tubbs. They left Buzzards Bay Saturday morning and were on their way to Maine when they smelled smoke as they were coming into Little Harbor in New Castle, New Hampshire, around 4 p.m.

"It was a matter of 15 seconds from the time we smelled the smoke to the time the flames were just billowing, it was the most frightening, harrowing experience we ever had," Kitt Watson, 66, revealed.

"I said, 'grab the noodles, grab a dog, and let's go, we gotta get off this boat,'" Diane Watson, 57, recalled, noting they couldn't get to the life vests that were on board.

Kitt Watson estimates they were 100 yards from Wentworth Marina when they all jumped into the water. He says he hesitated for a second, knowing how cold it would be.

The Watsons say they swam away from the boat, given it was on fire and there were 1,500 gallons of diesel fuel on board.

"I was just scared, I thought the boat was going to blow up," Diane Watson shared.

As they used pool noodles to stay afloat, their belongings continued to burn right before their eyes.

"Our whole lives were on that boat," Kitt Watson said.

"It happened so fast, it was just frightening how fast this happened," Kitt Watson said.

"And how fast it burned," Diane Watson added. "...it's something you see on TV."

Kitt Watson estimates they were in the water for 5-10 minutes, long enough for hypothermia to set in, before help arrived.

Diane Watson and Tubbs, as well as the dogs, were picked up by a lobsterman, while a second Good Samaritan grabbed Kitt Watson from the water.

The Watsons and Tubbs, 33, were were taken to a hospital, treated and released. They're glad to be alive and say everybody went above and beyond to help them in the aftermath.

The couple says people were so helpful taking care of them, getting them clothes, getting them to the hospital, and taking care of their dogs.

"Just amazing, everybody reached out," Kitt Watson said.

"It was beautiful," Diane Watson added.

As for their yacht, the Coast Guard called to let them know that despite efforts to save it, the boat drifted into Maine waters and eventually sank about two hours after the initial 911 call.

"We have to start our whole life over again because we lost everything," Kitt Watson shared, before his wife added, "But we're just so grateful to be alive, so grateful."

The couple, from New Canaan, Connecticut, says they have no idea how the fire started but both are adamant that this incident will not deter them from living the boat lifestyle again.

The Watsons want to continue their journey, saying they are both passionate about being out on the water, so for now they are figuring out how to rebuild.

"Today we went out and bought shoes and socks, and we gotta start over, just one day at a time, take it one day at a time," Diane Watson said.

But until they receive the insurance money that will allow them to purchase another boat -- something that will take a while, they say -- the Watsons will have to stay on dry land. Meantime, they are thankful for the support of family and friends, and know this could have ended very differently.

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