Shortly after 3 pm Sept. 7, Capt. Alan Allen of York River Charters radioed the US Coast Guard in Portsmouth with a mayday alert after an allision with ATON buoy R-22. As his bow quickly took on water, he flagged down a passing motorboat and transferred his fishing passengers to its stern. From the back of Reel Deep out of nearby Hayes, they watched the sinking in silence.

He reported that first one engine and then the second engine went dead, leaving him stranded and sinking.

Let’s Go Sail arrived on scene to assist. I positioned the sailboat to move to the stern to pick up Alan, but the Virginia Marine Police raced to the scene and intervened by driving right up to the stern. They went straight in, stopped and put an officer on the bow with his arm outreached. Alan grabbed it and was rescued within seconds of the boat sinking. It was straight out of a movie.

A USCG rescue helicopter hovered overhead, but fortunately no one had to be deployed by rope. On the water, everyone was transported safely to York River Yacht Haven while Alan conferred with the Marine Police. Two coolers and other flotsam drifted away on the water.

Reports originally said eight people were rescued but it was actually seven: five male passengers and the captain and his mate. The passengers were below when the allision occurred but were not injured. Two hours later, at the request of the Coast Guard, the Abington Fire & Rescue Department secured the scene as the boat, 34 feet and named Second Addiction, wound up partially submerged in 9 feet of water. They placed floatation devices and strobe lights out as a warning to boaters to avoid the scene.

The boat will likely be extracted from the site and taken to shore for disposal. The environmental concerns include toxins, fuel and batteries. The boat is shot because of the electronics damage, the hull damage and the seawater damage to the interior. That’s why we have insurance.

Update: The boat was removed within a day or two to Wormley Creek Marina to assess the damage and dry it out. Note in the photo how the gunwale rose up on the buoy before holing the boat at the water line. What looks like insulation is spilling out, but it may be an absorbent as well. A few inches higher and it might not have sunk.

Back at York River Yacht Haven marina, boat owners were sympathetic over the plight of Capt. Allen. He handled the situation with aplomb, professionalism and detail. He lamented to the dockmaster that it was his first accident in 51 years on the water.

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