OCEAN CITY — A sportfishing boat out of Ocean City rescued three people from a vessel taking on water and in danger of sinking about 40 miles off the coast of the resort on Wednesday.
Captain John Oughton and the crew on the That’s Right out of Ocean City was heading in from an overnight trip on Wednesday morning when they came upon a 27-foot center console fishing boat taking on water and under duress about 40 miles off the coast of Ocean City. Watchstanders at Coast Guard Station Ocean City had received a report from the owner of the 27-foot boat stating the vessel had taken a wave over the stern in rough seas and began to take on water.
Oughton and the That’s Right crew had fished all day on Tuesday, came into port Tuesday evening and went back out for an overnight trip on Tuesday and into Wednesday morning when they came across the vessel in distress.
“We were coming back from an overnight trip,” he said. “We fished a little on Wednesday morning, but we were heading in after a long couple of days when we came upon this vessel in distress. There were three people on board and they were waving their arms and their lifejackets, so we went over to assist them.”
Oughton said the distressed vessel was out of Cape May, N.J. and had been taking a beating in the rough seas when it lost one of its two outboard engines. The vessel attempted to limp into Ocean City on one engine, but after taking on water and taking a wave over the stern, they lost both engines.
“They were dead in the water,” he said. “They lost both engines, and then they lost all power. We went over and took the three people on board onto our vessel and they were probably never happier to get on a boat. They said they were about to jump into the water, but we told them never get into the water until the boat is definitely going to go down.”
The water is still in the 60s or maybe 70 degrees offshore, which would have certainly made for a cold and miserable wait for the Coast Guard and other help to arrive. The distressed vessel had called the Coast Guard when it started to get in trouble, and Oughton and the That’s Right crew established contact with the Coast Guard through their In-Reach system, a satellite-driven communication device that allows texting from offshore. In addition, Oughton’s wife, Andrea, was communicating with the Coast Guard from shore and coordinating the rescue efforts from her end.
The Coast Guard Sector Maryland-National Capital Region watchstanders issued an urgent marine information broadcast and launched a 47-foot motor lifeboat crew from Station Ocean City along with an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Coast Guard Station Atlantic City. In addition, the Coast Guard diverted Coast Guard cutter Lawrence Lawson to the area to respond to the distressed vessel.
In the meantime, the That’s Right crew continued its pretty work, getting lines on the distressed vessel and towing it toward shore while waiting for the Coast Guard to arrive. The Coast Guard resources including the 47-foot rescue boat, the MH-65 helicopter and the cutter Lawrence Lawson arrived a short time later. The crew from the cutter passed a dewatering pump to the distressed vessel and members from both vessels helped dewater the boat. The Good Samaritan That’s Right crew took the three boaters to Ocean City, while the 47-foot motor lifeboat towed the vessel to the West Ocean City boat ramp.
Oughton said the situation was a little dicey, but no injuries were reported. He said he and his crew only did what any other vessel in the area would do.
“We’re all kind of each other’s eyes and ears out there and we have everyone’s back,” he said. “They were bobbing around 40 miles offshore in four-to six-foot seas with occasional eight-footers and they probably were going to go down sooner rather than later. The Coast Guard responded quickly and was right on us, so they did an outstanding job as always.”