By Wayne K. Roustan

Sun Sentinel

Five men were pulled from the choppy ocean off Boynton Beach, Florida, after their fishing boat sank about four miles offshore Saturday morning.

A marlin, which yanked on the boat until it started taking on water, was blamed for the sinking.

The captain and crew of a passing 55-foot charter catamaran spotted the five men bobbing in the water and plucked them from the sea before handing them over to the U.S. Coast Guard, which arrived shortly after the rescue.

The Coast Guard said it received a call about 9:24 a.m. that a 31-foot pleasure craft with five people aboard was rapidly taking on water.

Palm Breeze charter Capt. Charles Mount, Elena Markel and her 13-year-old daughter Stefania were returning to Boca Raton, Florida, from a charter trip when they overheard the Coast Guard talking to one of the distressed men on the radio.

“One of the guys said they were sinking, and it happened by the Breakers (hotel),” Elena Markel said. “We had just passed there, then suddenly, the captain started screaming, ‘Elena, drop the sails down.’”

The men were clinging to the sinking boat. The catamaran moved closer and life jackets were thrown to the men, who swam to the catamaran and climbed aboard. By then, their boat was completely submerged.

Once on the deck of the Palm Breeze, one of the men said they had been fishing and hooked a big blue marlin that pulled their boat backward and it took on water and sank.

The men were taken to the Lake Worth Inlet Coast Guard station. Their identities were not available, but there were no reports of injuries. They were in the water for more than 30 minutes, Markel said.

The charter trip was supposed to be one day, and the catamaran was scheduled to return to Boca Raton Friday. But Markel said they stayed overnight in Palm Beach after going to a friend’s party.

“If we had not stayed that night, we would have missed the rescue,” she said. “Maybe it was meant to be.”

Markel had taken Stefania along on the overnight trip because it was Take Your Child to Work Day, she said.

“What an experience for her,” Markel said. “I told her, ‘Now you’ll have the best story to tell, ever, about working with your mom.’”

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