OCEAN CITY — There was no shortage of major story lines as the 48th Annual White Marlin Open unfolded Monday, but perhaps the biggest one was a crew rescued from a vessel sinking 60 miles off the coast being rescued by another participating boat.
Around 10:30 a.m. on day one of the White Marlin Open, the participating boat Knot Stressin started taking on water about 60 miles off the coast. A distress call went out over the high frequency radio offshore as the six-man crew of the Knot Stressin abandoned the sinking vessel and got into a red inflatable lifeboat.
Coast Guard Sector Virginia received the initial distress call through VHF Channel 16 from the captain of the Knot Stressin, who reported the vessel’s engine room was flooded and all aboard were abandoning ship into a life raft. The Coast Guard cutter Sailfish, an 87-foot patrol boat, was diverted to assist along with a crew on a 47-foot motor lifeboat launched from Coast Guard Station Chincoteague.
The crew on the 65-foot Fishbone heard the urgent marine information distress call and responded to the area. Upon arrival, the Fishbone crew found the Knot Stressin about half submerged with its bow sticking out of the water and its crew in the lifeboat paddling toward them.
Fishbone Captain Bill Chapman carefully backed the boat toward the stranded men in the lifeboat and the Fishbone crew pulled each of them aboard the Good Samaritan vessel. Each was safely transferred to the Fishbone as the Knot Stressin slowly went down.
According to the Fishbone’s social media post, they heard on the radio a boat was sinking and the Coast Guard was coming. The Fishbone got the coordinates, reeled in all of its gear and went toward the Knot Stressin’ full steam ahead with 3,100 horsepower.
“They lost the fight on a blue marlin, they lost their boat and their personal belongings and fishing gear, but we did save them, and their beer,” according to the Fishbone post. “So, we fed them and added to our amazing team for the day. Terrifying and wonderful at the same time.”
With its six rescued individuals on board, along with their inflatable lifeboat, the Fishbone crew went back to the business of fishing in the WMO. While the Fishbone did continue to fish the rest of the day with its extra crew on board, Monday officially went into the books as a lay day because they spent a good portion of their morning rescuing the six stranded anglers from the Knot Stressin, according to WMO officials. Essentially, the Fishbone got an extra day of fishing because of the captain and crew’s heroics. The WMO and the entire sportfishing community praised the Fishbone crew for their heroic efforts, according to a WMO social media post.
“Big thanks to the Fishbone, who helped save the day for some anglers who had to abandon ship today 60 miles offshore,” the post reads. “Everyone is safe and we are thankful for their kindness.”
No injuries were reported, but the 34-foot Knot Stressin was determined to be unrecoverable and sank to the bottom in the Poor Man’s Canyon. In addition to having a working VHF radio on board, all of the crewmembers on the Knot Stressin had properly-fitting life jackets and personal locator beacons, which allowed watchstanders to know their exact location.
“There are so many factors that made this case a success,” said Coast Guard Lieutenant Commander Sarah Pulliam. “We have a command center staffed by true professionals, who were able to quickly coordinate the rescue of these individuals, and there are amazing people out on the water who do not hesitate when they hear lives are in danger. There mariners were also well-prepared in terms of having the right safety equipment on board and knowing how to use it.”
A video of the rescue can be found here.