Sea Tow captain saves four sailors’ lives after boat gets stranded

SHALLOTTE, NC (WWAY) — A boating company came to the rescue Monday, saving four people from drowning on a stranded sailboat near Shallotte Point.

As Sea Tow Captain Clay Hughes worked Monday afternoon, he heard a hoarse, hollow voice come over his radio.

“It was kind of a garbled, weak mayday call came in over channel 16, which is the hailing and distress channel,” he remembered.

When no one answered, Hughes hopped on the line, getting the Coast Guard’s attention and finding out where the boat was located.

“But then just a short time later,” Hughes said,  “they lost all communications with them.”

The boat lost power and all means of communication with the shore. As the winds picked up and sun started to go down, Hughes located the sailboat, contacted law enforcement and Coast Guard, and drove out.

“Their lives were in danger,” he said. “Yeah absolutely, I would say their lives were in danger and I think they realized that.”

Stranded and tipping over in Shallotte Point Inlet, the boat had somehow run aground and was taking on water with four passengers onboard.

According to Hughes, “It was an extreme low tide, I think a new moon low tide. You can get in trouble there quickly. And unfortunately we’ve seen it quite a bit.”

From 20 yards away, Hughes cast a line to the sailboat. Brunswick County Sheriff’s Deputies stood by as Hughes talked the stranded boaters through tying the line to their bow.

“She was just about to break down when I spoke to her and she said, I’m just going to sit here, she was in the cockpit area with the rest of them. She said I’m going to sit here, just tell me when I need to swim,” he remembered.

After six hours of towing the boat through low tides and strong waves, the people on the vessel and Hughes made it out safely with no injuries.

“I’m very relieved and grateful I was able to help them, and there at the right place right time.”

Hughes says boaters should generally steer clear of Shallotte Inlet Point, as it is not maintained by the Coast Guard and incredibly shallow.

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