Coast Guard rescues 22 aboard 40-footer

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The owners of a party boat said they were shocked when their vessel hit a shoal near Alcatraz Island and nearly sank with 22 passengers on board.

The 40-foot Neptune was hosting a bachelor party Friday night when it hit a rocky outcropping that tore a foot-long gash in the side of the boat, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

All of the passengers were rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard and the boat was towed to Sausalito for repairs. No one was injured and there was no pollution damage.

Melissa McDowell, who owns the boat with her husband, Kevin, told the paper they had no idea how they managed to hit the shoal, which is marked by a buoy and well-known by the captain of the Neptune. McDowell, her husband, and their adult daughter were on the boat during the incident.

"It was very dark and the buoy isn't lit, so you have to rely on radar and the bell," McDowell told the paper. "But we have an experienced captain. He's been on the water for over 10 years, maybe close to 20 years. And that was routine for us.”

The Neptune, described by the owners as a "1958 classic cabin top cruiser" that can carry as many as 42 passengers, typically hosts wine-tasting parties. But the bachelor party voyagers were beer drinkers.

The boat jolted when it hit the shoal, and McDowell said she immediately threw life jackets at the passengers and told them to stay put. The captain attempted to steer the boat toward shore, but the damage made that difficult.

The Coast Guard arrived after only a few minutes and the passengers were taken to Pier 39. The McDowells, their daughter and the captain stayed behind to check out the damage and wait for another ride to shore.

The couple started their floating wine-tasting business, called San Francisco Bay Boat Cruises, in March. McDowell called the crash “a major setback.”

Click here for the full report.

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