Stop fishing, start bailing

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AUG. 11 -- Seven people aboard a convertible sportfisherman from Cape May, N.J., needed rescuing Wednesday morning after the boat began taking on water during a fishing tournament about 30 miles off Ocean City, Md.

The captain of the 60-foot Dream Catcher radioed the Coast Guard for help at about 5:30 a.m., according to the Coast Guard, which launched a helicopter and a 47-foot motor lifeboat to the scene. Winds were at 10 to 15 knots and seas were 1 to 3 feet at the time of the incident, says Coast Guard petty officer Larry Chambers.

By 6:15 a.m., when the first Coast Guard officers arrived, all seven passengers aboard Dream Catcher — built by North Carolina custom boatbuilder Paul Mann — had been transferred to two other boats also participating in a white marlin fishing tournament, according to the Coast Guard. The Fighting Lady rescued four Dream Catcher passengers and SeaToy rescued three. The Coast Guard did not immediately interview the captain of Dream Catcher or his passengers as they remained on their rescuing boats to continue fishing.

As of Wednesday evening Dream Catcher was floating and partially submerged, with about one-third of the boat out of the water, Chambers says. Officers at Coast Guard Sector Hampton Roads in Virginia are investigating the incident. The cause had not yet been determined

“Our investigation is still in its early stages,” says Jerry Crooks, Sector Hampton Roads chief of investigations. “Right now we are primarily concerned with the recovery of the boat and prevention of pollution. There apparently are 300 to 400 gallons of diesel fuel aboard that we don’t want to spill. Obviously, we also hope that no other boaters hit the submerged boat before it is raised.”

— Jason Fell