The Port Orange-based Satisfaction, a 50-foot, 50-year-old fishing boat with two fishermen, 600 pounds of shark and 300 pounds of diesel on board was about a quarter mile offshore just north of Flagler Beach early this morning when damaging waves took it by surprise.
The first wave sent the boat’s freezer, with its fish catch, overboard. A second wave disabled the boat’s power supply and flooded the engine, sending the boat’s nose upright. The two men on board, both fishermen in their 40s, hung on for a while, then “they abandoned the vessel about a quarter mile from shore of Flagler Beach and swam to shore,” says Troy Harper, Flagler County’s director of emergency services, who was at the scene much of the day. Neither man was hurt. Neither wore safety gear. The Satisfaction is registered to JDK Inc. of Port Orange.
Waves eventually pushed the boat itself, a vessel made of wood that was sheathed in Plexiglas in the 1980s, to shore at Varn Park, just north of Beverly Beach and south of the Hammock. The boat was mostly in one piece when it was beached, but with high tide at around 10 a.m., it started taking a beating again, and its rear section was sheared off, Harper said. Parts of the boat were recovered two and a half miles north of the spot at Varn Park, around Jungle Hut Road.
(The closing of State Road A1A from Jungle Hut Road north to 16th Street, beginning at around 3:30 p.m., was unrelated: a woman had driven her car into a utility pole, downing power lines. The woman was OK. The power lines had to be repaired. So traffic was diverted for several hours.)
The freezer aboard the Satisfaction containing the 600 pounds of fish floated to shore, about 1000 feet away, and the boat’s owners recovered the trove. The boat supplied onshore fish markets as well as long-distance orders all the way to Canada, where shark fins are in demand. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission checked the boat’s permits and the catch, for legalities: all was in order.
Late Tuesday afternoon, the U.S. Coast Guard, Flagler County Sheriff’s deputies and Don Mozick, an emergency response specialist with the Florida Department of Protection’s law enforcement division, were at the scene as several operations were going on simultaneously. Workers from S.E. Cline Construction were getting ready to tear the boat apart in order to remove it from the sands, but not before the 300 or so gallons of diesel on board, which did not spill, were siphoned off to a waiting tanker truck. “It was a great effort of all entities involved for an incident that could have been very bad for all the amounts of fuel and hydraulics on board,” Harper said.
Aside from some gear on board–though not the radar and other electronic equipment, which was destroyed–the boat itself was not salvageable. The loss was put at $100,000, Harper said. That’s not the full cost of the wreck. The clean-up is costly, too–to each of the federal, state and county agencies involved. That cost has not yet been calculated.
If you have in mind to enjoy the nearly full moon and walk barefoot on that section of beach tonight, don’t: county authorities are recommending that beach-goers stay away for 24 hours or so until all clean-ups are complete, including the removal of errant nails.
With thanks to Kip Durocher.
Click on the images for larger view.