Coast Guard finds deceased fisherman off North Carolina

WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, N.C. – The Coast Guard found a deceased operator of an overdue fishing vessel approximately 12 miles east of New Topsail Inlet, N.C., Tuesday night.

The operator’s wife notified Coast Guard Sector North Carolina watchstanders at around 8 p.m. stating that her husband had departed Surf City at 8 a.m. aboard their lobster-style cabin cruiser Marina K Tuesday to fish for grouper, and had not returned.

A 25-foot rescue boat crew from Station Wrightsville Beach searched between New Topsail Inlet and the operator’s preferred fishing area about 12 miles east of the inlet, but did not find the vessel. At 8:56 p.m., watchstanders attempted contact the victim via cell phone with no response, but were able to obtain an approximate position, indicating his vessel was 12 miles southwest of the phone tower at Sneads Ferry.

An HC-130J Hercules air plane crew from Air Station Elizabeth City arrived on scene, found a vessel matching the Marina K’s description, and guided the rescue boat crew to the scene. The boat crew boarded the vessel and found it unoccupied.

The crew downloaded GPS data indicating two stored positions, yielding a historical position of the vessel. The Coast Guard Cutter Cochito, an 87-foot patrol boat were also diverted to support search efforts.

The rescue boat crew conducted a search of the nine miles between the last known two positions. The crew later discovered the operator deceased in the water. The body was taken back to station Wrightsville Beach and transferred to the coroner.

This is the second reported death of a fisherman fishing alone without a life jacket in 5 months in North Carolina.

Being educated about safe boating could save a life. Many boating fatalities occur on boats where the operator has not completed a boating safety education course. Courses given by the Coast Guard Auxiliary and the U.S. Power Squadrons cover many aspects of boating safety, from boat handling to preparing for the weather.

According to Coast Guard statistics from 2008, 90 percent of drowning victims in the United States were not wearing life jackets. In an emergency, there may be no time to put on a life jacket, so the Coast Guard advises wearing one at all times while on the water.

To reduce the number of incidents on the water and to increase the safety of people on the water, the Coast Guard recommends the following:

  • Make sure a friend or relative knows your float plan. A float plan states where you are going and how many people are aboard your vessel, gives a complete vessel description, and details your destination and when you plan to return. Float plans aid rescuers in identifying a search area in the event of an emergency while on the water.
  • Be sure to check the local weather prior to departing the dock. Weather can change very rapidly and boaters should keep a watchful eye on the forecasted conditions.
  • The Coast Guard urges mariners to outfit their boat with a functioning marine band radio, as cell phones are typically an unreliable source of communication due to gaps in coverage and limited battery life. Using channel 16 on a marine-band radio is the most reliable way to communicate distress to search and rescue personnel in an emergency.
  • Emergency position-indicating radio beacons provide boaters an enhancement during an offshore voyage. In the event a voyage is interrupted by unforeseen events, the beacon will transmit the boat’s position and other identifying information that will expedite rescue.

For further boating safety information, check online at one of the following:

  • U. S. Coast Guard Auxiliary
  • Vessel Safety Checks
  • Coast Guard Boating Safety page at
  • National Safe Boating Council
  • U.S. Power Squadrons

If you have any problems viewing this article, please report it here.