Captain uses iPhone to reach Coast Guard

December 15, 2008 4:22:53 PM PST
26 passengers and a boat captain are safe following an overnight rescue that lasted for more than five hours Sunday.

With his passengers shivering from the cold Bay air, the captain realized an iPhone could save the day.

The boat's captain Al was so embarrassed by what happened Saturday night he decided not to give ABC7 his last name.

"I didn't know that Coyote Point Marina had a sea wall made of concrete rubble that was at least two feet underwater at high tide. It looked like clear water," said Al.

The 65-foot cabin cruiser called "The Great Feet" was returning from a birthday party cruise Saturday night when Al mistook a yellow light he saw for the light at Oyster Point Marina, his final destination.

He ran aground around 11 p.m. and the vessel began taking on water. He tried to get help but could not give rescuers his location.

"The GPS was out. The Loran was giving me false readings. I tried even calling 911 using my cell phone to provide the location by latitude and longitude to them. That was coming in wrong. Finally, we discovered an easy way. Somebody had an iPhone," said Al.

With the iPhone's GPS function Al was able to give his location to the Coast Guard.

"It was too shallow for any of our boat crews to get close enough and help people on board, so the 65 helicopter deployed a life raft and a rescue swimmer," explained Pamela Manns with the U.S. Coast Guard.

It took from 11:00 p.m. to 4:30 a.m., a total of five hours, to get the boats exact location, and for the Coast Guard to find boats able to operate in 1-2 feet of shallow water.

The 26 passengers who ranged in age from 12 to 29 got on the raft and the Coast Guard used air boats to run the passengers, in groups of four, through the shallow water to the marina.

The passengers were all uninjured.

Sunday afternoon the boat leaned precariously, resting on a sea wall, until it rolled over when the tide came in.

"If it's totaled we'll take it to the crusher. If it's recoverable we'll try to save it," said Al.

The boat has four owners. They say they will try to get a salvage crew out Monday to try and bring the boat in.

Meanwhile the Coast Guard is laying gasoline-absorbing booms around the boat to prevent gasoline from getting into the Bay.


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