When fisherman James Clemons' boat started sinking, he grabbed his cellular telephone, jumped into a raft and dialed for help.

After abandoning his 45-foot trawler, Net Income, Clemons used the portable phone to call his wife and ask her to look up the number for the U.S. Coast Guard station in Portland, Maine."He said, `I'm on a life raft and the boat is sinking,' " Ann Clemons said. "It was a little bit odd."

Clemons then dialed the Coast Guard, said his boat sank and that he was in a raft with his crewman, Lyman Kennedy. He also asked if they'd send someone to pick them up, 17 miles out to sea.

"We were pretty surprised," said Petty Officer Robert Van Gorden, who took the call Friday morning. "It's the first time the operations department here can recall a cellular phone call from a life raft with that type of scenario behind it."

Van Gorden said he issued an urgent marine information broadcast, dispatched two aircraft from the Cape Cod Air Station and a 44-foot vessel. But two fishing vessels arrived first to rescue the two fishermen.