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Bush's Sea Rescue

Good deed: The inside story on how Neil Bush rescued family stranded on high seas

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George Bush boat Fidelity IV
Neil Bush was driving Fidelity IV when he went to the rescue of stranded boaters off the coast of Maine. RealtyYorkMaine.com
Chairman of Points of Light Neil Bush (C) shakes hands with his father, former US President George H.W. Bush, while attending a White House ceremony to recognize the Points of Light volunteer program July 15, 2013
Neil Bush, left, shakes hands with his father, former President George H.W. Bush, at the Points of Light program at the White House. Photo by © Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images
Shirley Polinger rescued by Neil Bush
Shirley Polinger's rescue at sea has gained international attention. Shirley Polinger/Facebook
St. Anne's Episcopal Church at Kennebunkport, Maine
The presidential Bush family worships at St. Anne's Episcopal Church in Kennebunkport, Maine. Tumblr.com
George Bush boat Fidelity IV
Chairman of Points of Light Neil Bush (C) shakes hands with his father, former US President George H.W. Bush, while attending a White House ceremony to recognize the Points of Light volunteer program July 15, 2013
Shirley Polinger rescued by Neil Bush
St. Anne's Episcopal Church at Kennebunkport, Maine

To hear Neil Bush tell it, his rescue of a stranded New England family in the waters off the coast of Maine was nothing more than what any seafaring gentleman would have done in a similar situation. "I was just happy to be there in the right place at the right time," he tells CultureMap.

The story has been making headlines since the Portland Press Herald ran Shirley Polinger's account of her family's rescue by former President George W. Bush's younger brother. Among those reporting were the Washington Times and the London Daily Mail, but no media outlet spoke to Bush, who waxes philosophical about the event.

 "If it weren't for the fact that it was Dad's (former President George H.W. Bush) boat . . . well, it's the kind of thing that any yachtsman would have done." 

"I was surprised at how much press it's gotten," Bush says from his Houston office, just back from a family vacation in Maine. "If it weren't for the fact that it was Dad's (former President George H.W. Bush) boat . . . well, it's the kind of thing that any yachtsman would have done."

It all began on Saturday when Bush had taken his stepson, Alex, and his brother-in-law for an outing on the 38-foot Fidelity IV

"I was driving Dad's boat and I saw these people waving way in the distance and we went over to help," he recalls.

The Polinger family boat had stalled and they believed it was due to something wrapped around the propeller. "I looked at the folks on board and I knew that no one was going to jump into the water to undo the line. So I asked 'Would you mind if I jumped in to facilitate things?' Luckily, I had on some exercise clothes so it wasn't like I was fully dressed."

Bush reports that the stranded boat had actually stalled out, nothing hindering the propeller. So he hooked it up to the Fidelity IV and towed the limp vessel to Wells Harbor, some 30 minutes away.

That might have been the end of the story but not the end of a celebration of good deeds, of which Bush says, "It seems like the stars were aligned for service messages this weekend."

He was referring first to Sunday's sermon at St. Anne's Episcopal Church in Kennebunkport, Maine. The senior Bushes and Neil's family attended ocean side services where the sermon was on the parable of the Good Samaritan. The following day, the former president and Neil were at the White House in Washington for presentation of the 5,000th Points of Light award, an honor given to those who live a life service. Neil is chairman of Points of Light.

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