A 57-foot charter boat out of Pirate’s Cove Marina with nine people on board hit the Bonner Bridge early this morning.
The North Carolina Department of Transportation reports on its NC 12 Facebook page that engineers have inspected the bridge and found no damage.
The U.S. Coast Guard reported that three passengers on the boat were possibly injured, but DOT says on the Facebook page that there were no injuries.
A concerned boater aboard the vessel West Wind witnessed the allision – a nautical term for a boat hitting a stationary object — and contacted Coast Guard Sector North Carolina watchstanders via VHF-FM marine radio channel 16 at approximately 5:45 a.m.
The West Wind boater reported that the charter boat, Sandra D, struck one of the support pilings of the bridge, resulting in a 5-foot by 10-foot hole in the boat’s bow and possible injuries to three of the passengers aboard.
Watchstanders deployed crews from Coast Guard Station Oregon Inlet aboard a 47-foot Motor Life Boat and a 24-foot Special Purpose Craft – Shallow Water to assist.
A good Samaritan was in the area and assisted in taking the passengers off the Sandra D.
At approximately 6:10 a.m., the crew aboard the MLB arrived on scene and removed seven people from the good Samaritan’s boat and transported them to shore where they were met by Dare County Emergency Medical Services personnel.
The Sandra D’s owner intentionally grounded his boat to keep it from sinking. The Coast Guard crew aboard the SPC-SW then retrieved the owner and a crewman and took them back to shore.
Coast Guard watchstanders issued a safety marine information broadcast concerning the Sandra D’s position and its potential to be a hazard to navigation.
According to the Pirate’s Cove website, the Sandra D is captained by Keith Baer.
The Sandra D was using an alternate unmarked channel to the south of the main channel under the bridge. Some boats have been using this alternate channel because it is deeper than the marked channel under the span.
“The mariners and the Coast Guard are extremely lucky that there were no significant injuries or damage to the bridge in this allision,” said Lt. Lane Munroe, the command center chief at Coast Guard Sector North Carolina.
“Mariners are reminded to use marked channels and transit at safe speeds to minimize the inherent risk of boating in the vicinity of structures,” he said. “Using alternate bridge spans, which do not have fender systems to protect the bridge from vessel strikes and are not marked with navigational aids greatly increases the risk to the boating public as well as the vehicles using the bridge.”