OCEAN CITY – A potential tragedy was averted last weekend when a Good Samaritan came to the rescue of a popular Ocean City sport fishing charter boat that sank 55 miles off the coast of the resort.
Around 11:17 a.m. last Saturday, the Coast Guard received a call from a crewmember on the charter fishing boat “American Lady” reporting the “Always Late,” a 48-foot Ocean out of Ocean City, was taking on water and the crew needed assistance. The Coast Guard then issued an urgent marine information broadcast to mariners in the area of the Elephant’s Trunk, a popular fishing spot inside the Baltimore Canyon about 55 miles offshore where the vessel was reportedly taking on water, and as many as four vessels responded including the “American Lady,” the “Press Time” and the “Marli,” all of which are based in Ocean City.
The “Marli” was the first on the scene and successfully rescued seven of the eight people on board including the five anglers who chartered the “Always Late.” One crewmember remained on the sinking boat in an effort to salvage the vessel. According to reports on the incident, the veteran captain and crew, as well as the five anglers on board, remained calm and were safely removed from the sinking vessel by the “Marli.”
A short time later, a Coast Guard rescue helicopter out of Air Station Atlantic City arrived on the scene and lowered a rescue swimmer with a pump to assist the crewmember who remained on the sinking vessel in an attempt to control the flooding. The rescue swimmer and the “Always Late” crewmember were unable to control the flooding and were soon forced to abandon the boat. The last crewmember was also picked up by the “Marli.”
The vessel remained partially submerged at the Elephant’s Trunk until it was raised on Sunday and towed by a salvage company to Cape May, N.J., where an investigation into the cause of the vessel taking on water was initiated. According to sources, the tuna caught aboard the “Always Late” before the vessel started taking on water was also removed from the sinking boat. The crew taken aboard the “Marli” continued to fish later that day, catching two wahoo.
The “Always Late” and Captain Larry Richardson has been a fixture in the Ocean City offshore fishing scene for years and has often made an appearance on the leaderboard of several of the larger tournaments in the resort. For example, in 2000, the “Always Late” finished third in the white marlin category of the White Marlin Open but was awarded the tournament’s top monetary prize because of added entry levels.