MANNS HARBOR - The crew of a ferry boat saved a Black Mountain couple from the waters of Pamlico Sound after their sailboat capsized.
A news release from the N.C. Department of Transportation said John and Renee Hoffman were sailing in Big Foot Slough just off Ocracoke Thursday night when winds suddenly increased, causing the boat to capsize.
The M/V Cedar Island was nearby, and Capt. Steven Goodwin maneuvered the ferry into position to launch its 16-foot rescue boat. Crew members Glenn Salter and Daniel Smith piloted the rescue boat in 4-5 foot seas and 30-knot winds.
Passengers on the ferry cheered as the rescue boat returned and the crew brought the Hoffmans on board.
Renee Hoffman said she and her husband were fine until the sun went down, when the weather made a drastic change.
"We got into that area just outside the channel to Ocracoke, and the wind and the waves just went chaotic," she said, adding that the boat was running on its motor and that both she and her husband were wearing personal floatation devices when the accident occurred.
Hoffman said a huge wave hit one of the shoals, creating a rogue wave at the same time the wind gusted to 35 knots. The couple thinks the keel was knocked off when the bottom of the boat hit the shoal, meaning they lost the ability to keep their boat upright. A second wave came and knocked the boat over. John Hoffman sent a mayday call which both the U.S. Coast Guard and NC DOT personnel answered.
After about 45 minutes in the water, the ferry crew made its rescue. The Cedar Island had just left the channel, then turned around in the deeper water to return to get the Hoffmans out of the water.
Renee Hoffman said she and her husband only suffered scrapes and bruises.
"We had our emergency equipment ready," she said. "We knew it was a dangerous situation. We had the emergency equipment there in case we went into the water, and we knew we were right there at Ocracoke. Somebody was going to come get us."
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