Six people were rescued from a sinking vessel Thursday morning that was taking on water as it was returning to Pillar Point Harbor.
The 26-foot vessel, named the “Thunderbird”, made a mayday distress call at about 9:20 a.m. from about two miles outside the harbor. The passengers of the boat — including a father, his 11-year-old son and two couples — reported their boat was taking on water that was spilling in from the engine room.
Deputy harbormasters cast off in their own boat to meet the vessel, arriving about 10 minutes after the mayday call. The rescue team initially tried to help keep the boat afloat and guide it back to harbor. The sinking boat could still move with a backup motor, and the harbor patrol tried to use a pump to remove water some of the water spilling onboard.
But within two minutes, the engine sputtered and the boat was essentially dead in the water about a mile from land, said deputy harbormaster Cary Smith. The boat was evacuated, and within three minutes the vessel succumbed to the water.
“The crazy part was that it all happened within five minutes,” Smith said.
The passengers on the boats were reportedly from the Central Valley and had set out early Thursday morning to go rock fishing. Their vessel was one of the only boats that left the harbor Thursday. None of the passengers suffered any injuries or prolonged exposure to cold from the incident.
Harbor officials say they were able to recover a five-gallon fuel tank from the boat, but the main gas tank went down with the rest of the vessel. Smith speculated that the boat was about 60 feet underwater and probably would be too difficult to salvage.
“A boat that small and an ocean this big, it’s going to be fairly insignificant in the big picture,” he said. “To recover it, there may be more risks than rewards.”