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Jacksonville family's Father's Day trip takes terrifying turn

Igor Barros says boat took on water quickly after hitting St. Augustine sandbank

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ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – What was supposed to be a leisurely Father’s Day out on the water for a Jacksonville family took a terrifying turn when their sailboat capsized in the waters off St. Augustine.

The Barros family was sailing back into the inlet sometime Sunday afternoon when their 35-foot vessel got stuck in a sandbank. Moments later, they could only watch as the boat began filling up with water.

It was astonishing to Igor Barros, who thought it might take the boat awhile to sink. “When you watch movies and stuff, it’s always a long process,” he recalled. “And this was not—this was quick.”

Fortunately for everyone on board, St. Johns County Marine Rescue was patrolling the water over the holiday. But if crews hadn’t already been in the water, things might have turned out much worse.

Rescuers came across the family shortly after they put out a mayday call.

“It was insanely fast,” Barros told News4Jax on Monday. “They were amazing. They literally got there as we had to jump out of the water (and) they helped getting people on the boat.”

Lt. Dan Power with St. Johns County Fire Rescue said the sailboat overturned within seconds of crews arriving at the scene and the five people who were on board were jumping in the water.

Power pointed out that the family did everything they should have in a stressful situation, including wearing personal flotation devices which in turn helped first responders make a successful rescue.

 “The initial call was not very descriptive, but quickly—within 20 to 30 seconds—they started giving a descriptive location, ‘Hey, we can see the lighthouse…we see parasailer…giving us clues,” he said.

Barros said everyone with him stayed calm throughout the situation because they’re all strong swimmers. Looking back, he reckoned it probably seems scarier than it actually was.

“Nobody was hurt,” he said. “We all managed to get off the boat just in time before, you know, it pulled us down. After that, we all swim towards the rescue boat and we were safe in a matter of minutes.”

First responders recommend boaters have everything they need on board in case of an emergency. That includes life vests, signaling devices, noise-makers and some way of communicating.

About the Author:

Florida-born multi-media journalist pays special attention to issues in St. Johns County.