It’s a boater’s nightmare. After a day of fishing, with sunset on the way in an hour, you find yourself dead in the water – in an inlet full of boat traffic.
That was the reality for the two-person crew of a Blackfin recreational fishing boat Thursday in Manasquan Inlet at about 5 p.m. After apparently running out of fuel, the boat’s engines stopped, leaving the vessel without any power, floating toward the rocks of the south jetty. The situation was made worse by several other large sportfishing vessels creating wakes that pushed the smaller boat ever-closer to “the wall,” but fortunately, a number of onlookers gathered around the site of the boat to help push off if necessary.
The captain set anchor with a limited amount of rode to prevent the boat from swinging too widely, and with the wakes having subsided and the anchor somewhat set, an outgoing current combined with a southwest wind kept the boat far enough off the rocks to survive until help arrived.
The help came in the form of a 47-foot Motor Life Boat launched from U.S. Coast Guard Station Manasquan Inlet, with the USCG crew arriving about five minutes after a radio call was made alerting them to the distress. In an example of carrying out perfect training, the Coast Guardsmen on board gave the captain of the recreational boat a few directives and – making it look easy – tied the vessel and took it under tow in a side-by-side configuration.
The USCG vessel, just a few minutes later, would untie the recreational vessel at a fuel dock along Inlet Drive in Point Pleasant Beach, after which the crew transited the inlet and entered the ocean.
Since the conditions were relatively fair – seas offshore were choppy and an afternoon sea breeze had kicked in – within the inlet, it would have been unlikely that a repeat of the tragic loss of a recreational vessel in the inlet from several weeks ago would have occurred. But on-water scenarios are always unpredictable, and the good weather and daylight provided onlookers with an excellent and up-close example of how quickly and efficiently the Coast Guardsmen performed their duties and kept themselves and the crew of the recreational boat safe.
Bravo Zulu to the crew at USCG Station Manasquan Inlet!