By Jennifer Grimes
Triplicate staff writer
Stormy seas brought trouble for the small crab boat Sujon yesterday two miles off Crescent Citys coast.
Fifteen foot swells nearly swallowed the wooden boat after its crew had loaded it with crab.
Next thing you know, I looked down and we were full of water. About half an hour before that I was sicker than a dog - the water was so rough, said Sujons operator Tom Sargent.
The vessel and its crew had been out since 7:30 a.m. checking crab pots and had collected a three hundred pound catch.
Crew member Pat Miller said the Sujons rub rail split from the hull after getting banged all morning with the pots as they were pulled up on deck.
That split, he said, allowed waves to come into the already weighed-down hull, forcing the back deck below the water line.
We were listing heavy on the right side and things were shifting around in there. Something got stuck in the bilge pump, said Sargent.
The boat was in danger of sinking, according to U.S. Coast Guard personnel on the scene.
Executive Petty Officer Ernie Pratt said a Coast Guard helicopter was doing a routine training mission when its crew spotted the Sujon.
Pratt and his personnel launched a 21-foot inflatable rescue boat to help pump out the sinking boat.
We were getting beat up out there. That 21-footer is not designed for 15-foot swells, Pratt said.
Nevertheless, Miller and Sargent said the Coast Guard responded quickly. They were there in mega-seconds. It was amazing, Miller said.
After pumping water off the boat, the Sujon was escorted back to harbor.
The emergency is said to be the first serious incident this crab season.
We made it in. Thats the important thing, Sargent said.