A crew from the Bridgeport and Port Jefferson Steamboat Co. rescued three people who were clinging to their capsized boat and shaking in the 59-degree water. The men had been in the water for about 25 minutes when they were pulled aboard a lifeboat from the ferry, the Grand Republic.
The mayday call from the boat went
out, just as the ferry was preparing to depart from Bridgeport Harbor. Captain O’Neill said the men, employees of a local power plant taking water samples from the harbor, had a hand-held radio and they were able to establish contact fairly quickly.
While Captain O’Neil stayed in radio contact to pinpoint the men’s location, the crew prepared the rescue boat and emergency first aid supplies.
The men told O’Neill they were near Tongue’s Point and the ferry headed in that direction. O’Neill said it took just a few minutes to spot the men and their capsized vessel, which was being tossed about by two and three foot waves. He estimated the boat was between 17 and 19 feet long.
The ferry arrived at the scene and O’Neill said they maneuvered the vessel -- which is 300 feet long, the length of a football field to block the wind and waves -- which were blowing at around 25 knots. That allowed them to launch the rescue boat manned by crew members Brian Smith and Fred Campbell. At 6:25, the men were taken aboard the rescue boat and examined by the crew, then transferred to a Bridgeport Police boat, which had arrived at the scene.
Captain O’Neill said the crew has weekly drills to prepare them for a range of emergencies, from water rescues to fires to medical emergencies.