The monotony of another night at anchor was interrupted by 2 recreational boaters, who really had no business being out on the water at 11:30 at night.
Two guys, about 40 years old, and a boy about 12, departed from a small town in North Jersey, in a newly bought 17 ft boat, for a pleasant day of fishing, but their day took a turn for the worse, when they lost their way and almost ran out of gas.
There situation was dire enough for them to call the Coast Guard and report that they were lost and almost out of fuel. It was almost midnight. That's a long day in a 17 ft boat.
My Captain on the tug,Jack, was monitoring the VHF radio, because that's what Captains do, and he heard this particular distress call. When the confused boaters told the Coast Guard, "We don't know where we are but we're near a big bridge," Captain Jack got real interested because we were anchored quite close to the Verranzano Bridge in N.Y.
Jack searched the area with our search light and came upon a sad looking little boat smack in the middle of one of the busiest channels in the U.S. He hailed them on the radio, and miraculously they answered. He told them to come on over to our tug and we would assist them.
I was sitting in my room when the Captain came running by, "Mark, come with me, you have to check this out." I followed behind him and when we walked out on the stern of the tug, a little boat was coming alongside. Jack ran for our 10 gal. of gasoline we keep on board for the emergency "fast recovery boat" we have on board. It's too bad their engine didn't burn diesel fuel, because I have 97,000 gal. of that stuff on board for our engines.
It was then I was told what was going on.
The 2 guys were obviously at the end of a long day of drinking and fishing and the 12 year old seemed to be fine. Captain Jack took one of the guys up to the wheelhouse to show him on a chart where we were and where they had to go. Our Captain boarded their little boat to try to help them get their GPS operating correctly. Brad, our deck hand made sandwiches and gathered water, soft drinks and cookies into a bag for the worn out weekend sailors.
I was taking pictures of the whole event while talking to them, and they were very appreciative of the help we gave them. When their bellies and their gas tank were full, they cast off and headed across the channel, dodging oil tankers, on their way home.
I can only hope they made it.
Note: In the picture above, our Captain, Jack, is in the safety vest and the deck hand, Brad, helps with the can of gas.