By Jay Cook |
SANDY HOOK – A relaxing Labor Day weekend boat trip turned dangerous for six boaters when their vessel capsized Monday.
The boaters were aboard a 22-foot pleasure craft in the afternoon when their boat began taking on water and eventually began to capsize.
The distressed boaters used VHF-FM Channel 16 to alert the surrounding vessels they were going to need assistance. A patrol boat from U.S. Coast Guard Station Sandy Hook heard the call and responded.
At about 1:40 p.m., only five minutes after the distress call, both the Coast Guard crew and a good Samaritan listening over the airwaves responded to the craft.
Three people came aboard the good Samaritan’s boat, and the remaining three joined the Coast Guard vessel. The boaters were then taken back to the Atlantic Highlands Marina with no injuries reported from the incident.
Prior to the holiday weekend, U.S. Coast Guard officials stressed safe boating measures for what is typically one of the busiest weekends on the water.
Those boating safety tips were: never boat under the influence; file a float plan with friends or family members ashore; wear proper lifejackets; monitor weather broadcasts for “current storm” and “small craft” advisories; ensure one of many signaling devices like flares, whistles, horns, or emergency position-indicating radio beacon are on board; and carry a marine VHF-FM radio, as Channel 16 is the marine emergency channel.
In an interview with The Two River Times last week, United States Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Jeremy Mitchell, stationed at Sandy Hook, said the emergency lines are buzzing nearly every weekend.
“Now the insurance checks are rolling in” from boats damaged during Super Storm Sandy, Mitchell said and, “people are putting a little bit of money back into their boats. But meanwhile, they haven’t been on the water in a while. They forget a couple things, and next thing they know, they’re sinking.”
Monday’s incident is just one of many to occur on Two River waterways this boating season.
On Aug. 19, three boaters capsized in a nine-foot John boat while on the Shrewsbury River, but were safely rescued by a Station Sandy Hook boat crew.
A boat caught fire on the Shrewsbury River on Aug. 13 as 10 people were packed onto a 19-foot Sea Doo Speedster 200 small speedboat. New Jersey State Police, Monmouth County Sheriff’s Department and local fire departments all responded to the blaze. All 10 boaters made it off the craft safely as a nearby boater helped in the rescue.
On Aug. 4, 44-year-old Sinisa Bjelajac went missing while kitesurfing in Horseshoe Cove, a small inlet along the bayside of Sandy Hook. The Coast Guard suspended the search on Aug. 5, and Bjelajac’s body was found on Aug. 8, floating a few hundred yards off the beach at Seven Presidents Oceanfront Park in Long Branch.
The body of a middle-aged African American woman was recovered at Anchorage Beach in Sea Bright on July 30. According to an investigation by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, she was believed to have potential ties to New York City. A sketch of the woman generated by the New Jersey State Police was published, but has not yielded any information.
The United States Coast Guard continually urges boater safety and asks boaters to utilize the Coast Guard Auxiliary for complete vessel checks before launching into waters.
This article was first published in the Sept. 7-14, 2017 print edition of the Two River Times.
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