OCEAN CITY- With high winds and rough surf caused by a winter storm late last week, navigation became treacherous in and around Ocean City resulting in the Coast Guard responding to two separate vessel grounding incidents in the Inlet area within 12 hours of each other.
Around 8 p.m. last Thursday, Coast Guard watch-standers at Station Ocean City heard over the radio that the vessel “Doris Jean,” a 71-foot commercial fishing vessel, had suffered a steering problem about one mile from the Ocean City Inlet. A Coast Guard crew from Station Ocean City launched a 47-foot rescue boat in response to the reported vessel in distress and found the “Doris Jean” and her crew of three soft aground near the mouth of the Inlet.
With the incoming tide threatening to push the “Doris Jean” against the rocks, a decision was made to tow the vessel and her crew to safety. The Coast Guard rescue crew towed the “Doris Jean” to a fishing pier at the commercial harbor in West Ocean City.
Around 7:30 a.m. the next morning, Coast Guard watch-standers from Station Ocean City were watching their live video feed from the Inlet when they were alerted to another vessel that had run aground. The Coast Guard responded and found the “Sheila Renee,” a 77-foot scallop boat, hard aground near the Route 50 bridge.
Coast Guard rescue crews launched a 25-foot rescue boat and a 47-foot rescue boat, which were able to safely move the “Sheila Renee” off the rocks. After being moved away from the rocks, the crew of the “Sheila Renee” was able to make their way under the boat’s own power to the commercial harbor. No injuries or pollution were reported as a result of the two groundings.
Coast Guard Petty Officer First-Class Chris Karpf, who was officer of the day during the two grounding events, said this week the already dangerous currents in and around the Inlet were made even more treacherous by the stormy conditions last week and urged boaters to take precautions before heading out on the water.
“I believe it is imperative to check with the local fishing fleet to get local knowledge on the condition of the inlet," he said. “Taking this step could potentially save you a lot of trouble.”