Posted on May 2, 2018 by Johnnie
This day was to start out like any other offshore fishing day. Usually I try to coordinate with my friends, who want to go fishing, checking the weather and hopefully get an OK between the two to go out to The Big Rock, which is 50 miles out off the coast which is everyone’s fishing hole in Carteret County in North Carolina.
It was the day before Hurricane Sandy was to begin her tract from NC to the New England States. The seas were to be 2 to 4 feet with 5-12 knot winds and most of the time the offshore weather NOAA are usually correct. The morning of October 25, 2012 at 6:00am Doug Weber, his son Kyle, Jerry Jones and myself boarded my boat, the Attitude Adjuster with gear. I have a list I created, that I put on the boat to check every time before I leave to go offshore-Rod & Reels, Gaffs, Food, Bait, Life Vests and the EPIRB. I have been offshore fishing for 25 years and always tried to be prepared for the good times and the bad because anything can happen on a boat!
As we were making the ride out I noticed something unusual, there wasn’t any other boats headed out that morning expect a little 18-footer, usually there would be 8 to 10 charter boats on any given day. We passed the small boat and grinned, but little did we know he would play a part in a dramatic rescue 4 hours later.
At 9:00am we put out our bait and had 2 fish in the boat by 10:00am. Then the horror began, Jerry hollowed out to me, ” Johnnie, were is this water coming from?” In times passed we have joked with the crew, but this time it was not a laughing matter. I tried to access the situation; I turned on all bulge pumps, went down below and turn off the wash down, live well and head pumps. Water was 5 inches in the cabin floor. I got on the radio and hailed, ” MayDay! MayDay! Mayday!” then the radio and the entire power shutdown. The boat started bogging and we would have to run from side to side to keep her aloft. Then I realized the most important thing on the boat was 2 feet away! I grabbed the EPIRB and hit the switch and it started blinking. I laid the EPRIB down and looked up in the horizon and 500 yards away was that little 18-foot boat. We waved the orange life vests to get his attention.
Finally, he saw us and came over. When he got to the boat it was halfway under. I got the crew off and over on his boat and then the boat flipped with me on it. I swam around to his boat and they pulled me up and the only thing we saved was 2 rod & reels. I did not have time to grab the EPIRB! I knew with all the weigh on his boat, that we would not make it back 50 miles out and waves picking up to 3-5 feet. Doug managed to take one last picture of my boat as she sunk.
Now the good new! We had our EPIRB registered with the Coast Guard. The EPIRB had alerted the Coast Guard 5th District Station in Portsmouth, VA. The 5th District watchstanders called the phone numbers registered to the EPIRB and spoke with my wife who confirmed that I had gone fishing, and that I had left from Beaufort’s Inlet to the 90 Foot Drop then the Big Rock. The Coast Guard called my son too. Watchstanders then dispatched crews aboard an HC-130 Hercules aircraft from Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, NC and a 47-foot Motor Life Boat from Coast Guard Station Fort Macon, NC.
We saw the HC-130 Hercules aircraft circling where my boat went down. The Coast Guard aircraft conformed that the crew was on a fishing vessel. In 2 hours the 47-foot Motor Life boat was there to pick us up. As we got on the Coast Guard boat, we thank the captain of the 18-foot, Tony English, who had no EPIRB and said he had seen enough that day to justify the important of have one on his vessel and was going to get one immediately when he got back to shore. I called him that evening and thanked him for his part in the rescue. I can only imagine if I did not have the EPIRB.
The next day Hurricane Sandy was out were we were fishing and the waves went from 3-5feet to 18-20 feet. If you remember the 180-foot tall ship HMS Bounty went down the next day in the same area, 14 were saved except one crew member and the captain. In short, I would like to thank the Lord for watching over my crew, giving me wisdom and the EPIRB to save the crew of the Attitude Adjuster and me! I will never leave shore without an EPIRB.
Johnnie L. Brown Captain of the Attitude Adjuster
Words of wisdom
Shouldn’t take an emergency day to justify the importance of having one.
Thank you note
Thank you ACR!