Three men were in good condition early Wednesday after being cut from inside the hull of a capsized crab boat off the Oregon Coast after a harrowing rescue caught on video the night before.
The 38-foot Pacific Miner was flipped upside-down by large waves in the middle of the harbor and then got caught on rocks in a jetty in Coos Bay as the tide went out. A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter on a routine training mission spotted the vessel and launched a rescue, the agency said.
Rescuers could not see the men inside the capsized boat and given the ship’s condition, rescuers searched for bodies in the water for more than an hour before a firefighter checked the boat itself. He heard survivors pounding on the hull from the inside, said Rob Gensorek, the owner of a local bait shop called Basin Tackle who videotaped the rescue and posted it on Facebook Live.
It was a miracle the boat didn’t wash out to sea and that all the men were saved, he said in a phone interview Wednesday.
“If you were to write a game plan for how this thing should have played out to have a perfect ending, this was it. You usually don’t look for survivors in these cases — you look for victims,” he said.
Firefighters tied ropes to their waists for safety and used electric saws to carve away the hull and pull the men out.
“We got three guys. Three guys saved. That’s everybody, folks. The entire crew’s been saved,” Gensorek can be heard saying on the video.
“Amazing! God bless each one of these men that came out here. Everybody’s out. Everybody’s safe. It’s the most amazing rescue story.”
The Coast Guard reported breaking waves of eight to 12 feet on the Coos Bay bar when the boat capsized.
The accident comes during the height of the season for harvesting Dungeness crab, a winter delicacy in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska that is in high demand. The Pacific Miner had 300 crabs on board, the Coast Guard said.
The crab fishery helps keep many fishermen afloat financially, but it is also perilous. Winter storms can create huge waves and vessels periodically capsize, sometimes with deadly results.
Earlier this month, five fishermen on the crabbing boat Scandies Rose died when their vessel capsized in waters off Alaska, where dangerous conditions have been portrayed in the television program “Deadliest Catch.” And three men died last year when the boat they were on capsized off Newport last year.