Crew Grounds Sailboat, Prevents Sinking Off North Beach

Oct 31, 2018
Photo by: Jack Reynolds

Capt. Brenda Egan and her two crew members were three miles off the coast of Long Beach Island earlier this week when the 2001 Beneteau 411 they were sailing began to take on water faster than they could bail. For the experienced crew, it was an easy decision to slowly bring the boat to ground on the oceanfront beach.

“This boat is my home,” Egan said Tuesday afternoon, a day after she and her crew intentionally grounded the boat near 1031 Long Beach Blvd. in the North Beach section of Long Beach Township. “It was rough, really rough seas. They (waves) were breaking over the boat. There was lots of wind; I saw gusts up to 30 mph.”

The good news is no one was hurt, though one crew member lost medications to the foot of water the boat took on, according to Egan. She said the crew member had been planning to go home in a few days anyway, but with the trip cut short, Egan took her to the airport Tuesday morning.

“We did the right thing. I brought it in real slow,” said Egan, noting the crew and herself are all former military. A resident of Louisiana, she’s also a retired nurse and a member of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary. “I don’t think the boat was damaged from grounding it.”

Egan, who spent the summer on the boat in Saugerties, N.Y., and her crew were sailing south to Florida, the Bahamas and the Caribbean. They left Brielle Monday morning with a rest destination of Atlantic City before sunset Monday, she said. That’s how they’ve been sailing since leaving New York on Oct. 23 – daytime on the water and always stopping at night. Monday, Oct. 29, was more of the same until suddenly the boat began to fill with water.

“We still don’t know why,” she said. “It wasn’t something we could determine just walking around the boat.”

Egan called the Coast Guard to report the boat was taking on water. They stayed on the phone with her until she beached the boat, and met her onsite. So did a handful of fishermen who quickly came to the sailors’ aid and helped them get off the boat. Local police and the Barnegat Light First Aid Squad responded, too.

“Everyone was so nice,” Egan said. “A police captain took us to get something to eat because we hadn’t eaten all day. Everyone was super, super nice. I want to thank them all for their help. Even gawkers asked us if we needed anything, like blankets.”

Egan, who has been sailing for most of her life, said she’s been in similar situations before.

“It’s stressful,” she said, knowing where the question was going before it was asked, “and an adventure. I don’t panic; I just do what needs to be done. I am confident about going back out.”

The most upsetting part of the event was the flooding on the boat, Egan said. Clothes, shoes, and a dehumidifier were ruined, she said.

TowBoatUS Barnegat Light hauled the boat on Oct. 30, moving it to Silver Cloud Harbor Marina in Forked River, where it is slated to be repaired. Egan expects the repairs to take a few days, giving her opportunity to clear out the interior of the boat at the same time.

“Hopefully, we’ll be in Atlantic City by the end of the week,” she said. “We want to get out of the cold weather.”

In the meantime, she’s found a hotel room on the mainland and a rental car to get around the area.

BoatU.S. is the largest boat towing company in the nation, according to Scott Croft, director of public affairs for the company. It has more than 300 locations nationwide and handles more than 70,000 calls a year, he said.

— Gina G. Scala

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