40-foot sailboat hits jetties, takes on water

2 on boat safe after getting pinned on rocks

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A 40-foot sailboat hit the St. Johns River jetties early Monday morning and began taking on water, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

The operator, from Rhode Island, was trying to avoid a large freighter in the channel when the "Secret Passion" got pinned between rocks about 4:40 a.m.

The vessel sustained minimal damage and two people on board and a dog were not injured. The men had been out on the water for about 24 hours.

The situation was under control at 5:30 a.m., according to the U.S. Coast Guard, which had a rescue boat stay with the disabled vessel until Tow Boat US arrived to pull it to Sadler Point Marine Center in the Ortega River.

"Luckily, the Coast Guard was right there," said Bryan Dobson, the captain of Towboat US. "They were almost right across from the Coast Guard sector and they got to him right away, got the situation under control."

The trip to the marina took five hours.

"It doesn't appear to be too significant, and even though there's some minor water intrusion into the boat, it appears to be fairly minor overall, could have been a lot worst," Tom Owen, service manager at the marina, said of the damage. "This sort of thing actually does happen more often then you might think."

Local boaters say for those who are not familiar with these waters, it's easy to misjudge the end of the rocks because several of them are submerged under the water and it's hard to see if it's dark out or if it's high tide.

"I'd say they're very fortunate considering they got up on the rocks on the jetties," Dobson said. "For that kind of a bump, that's not much damage. That's a good solid sailboat he's got, but could've been a lot worse if he hit a little harder."

Boat repair specialists at the marina are taking a look at the sailboat's damage. Dobson said this should be a reminder for all boaters to always err on the side of caution.

"If you see a big ship coming or any boats coming and you're not sure what they're going to do, get on the radio and ask them, don't be afraid to use your radio," he said. "Those freighters and the cruise ships, they'll talk to you just as much as the guys in the little boats, they don't care. They much rather have you talk to them and make sure everybody knows what they're doing."

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