Debris from a 40-foot wooden cabin cruiser, built in the 1930s, still litters the beach on the south end of Masonboro Island, following an Aug.18 crash that left the rented vessel at the mercy of the waves.
Following a 911 call from a male and female, the two operators of the boat, the U.S. Coast Guard was notified of the incident at 9:40 p.m., Lt. Lane Munroe, local Sector N.C. Public Affairs Officer, said in an Aug. 26 interview. Munroe said that the pair had attempted to notify Sea Tow, but the owner’s contract with the service was expired, requiring the Coast Guard to assume responsibility.
“We do not have documentation of what their origin or destination was, but they were coming into Carolina Beach Inlet,” Munroe said. Determining if alcohol or any other drugs were involved in the crash is part of the ongoing investigation. He described weather conditions as “relatively benign.”
Simon Sanders, Carolina Beach Ocean Rescue Supervisor, responded to a call at 10:58 p.m. from the Coast Guard, asking for his assistance in getting the operators off the wrecked boat.
“We just took our Jet Ski, picked them up and put them on the Coast Guard boat because they couldn’t get in there. It was maybe an eighth of a mile north of Carolina inlet on the beach front,” Sanders said on Aug. 26. “It appeared to me that all they did was try to cut the corner of the inlet and ran up on the shoal there,” Sanders said.
There were no injuries, aside from one operator receiving “a small bump on the head,” Sanders said.
The owner of the vessel, whom Munroe would not identify, has contracted a private company to remove the parts of the wreck that could potentially release contaminants, including fuel, into the environment.
Masonboro Island site manager Hope Sutton said that crews had removed the engine and fuel tank, adding that she would like for the remaining debris to be removed as soon as possible.
“I’ve been working with the Coast Guard and the owner of the vessel … I’m waiting to hear from both of those individuals. All of the debris was supposed to be removed last week but there is still some debris out there,” Sutton said. “It happens; the ocean is unpredictable and people make mistakes.”
Sutton said that in the past six years, this is one of only two such wrecks to occur on the island. She said the other incident involved another leased boat. As the event was explained to her, the operators had run aground after falling asleep with the vessel on autopilot.