NorEast Fishing Forum banner
1 - 6 of 6 Posts

· Registered
322 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Some important lessons here; very sad to see this happen.

One Man drowns, Two Rescued After Boat Capsizes in the Bay
Southside Sentinel, August 22, 2002
by Tom Chillemi

The owner of a 23-foot catamaran power boat died after his boat was swamped by heavy seas and capsized on Thursday, August 15, near Nassawadox, about a mile off the Eastern Shore, said Wilford Kale, spokesman for the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC).

The two passengers who had been in the capsized boat were spotted clinging to a storage
bag containing life jackets by VMRC pilot Sid Adams after they had been in the water for about 30 minutes, said Kale.

The coroner?s report listed the cause of death of Earl John Sorrell Jr., 60, of Spotsylvania
as drowning, which was complicated by a head wound, said VMRC police officer David Lumgair.

The fishing party had left Norview Marina in Deltaville about 7 a.m. and had fished at the mouth of the Rappahannock River. By 10 a.m. the three men had guided the boat across the Chesapeake Bay, said Kale.

Lumgair said the seas were 3 to 6 feet high, driven by a 15-mile per hour southwest
wind that gathered extra punch as it came across and up the open Bay.

The waves were intensified by a sandbar in a shallow area. ?They stack up on that bar,? said Lumgair. ?You might have a 2-foot wave in the Bay and I?ve seen them almost double that [at the bar].?

He noted the sandbar is a popular fishing spot.

The boat took on water as it drifted with the stern (back) to the rough seas. The boat?s starboard (right) bilge pump switch was found to be inoperable, said Lumgair. ?So, any water coming into that hull was not being pumped out. Eventually it got to the point it affected the stability of the boat.?

The engine, which was in the back of the boat, became submerged because the boat was riding lower in the water and listing, said Lumgair. ?That led to the boat rolling over.?
Sorrell had a head injury consistent with a boat striking him during a roll over, said Lumgair.

Abandoned boat
When the boat began to fill with water Sorrell told his two passengers, Barney W. Basham, 63, and his son Bradley Basham, 20, both of Charlottesville, to get life jackets from a compartment and abandon the boat. The life jackets were in a storage bag and the survivors did not have time to put them on before getting into the water, said Lumgair.

?I?m sure they had a difficult time. They said they were ?scared out of their wits? and didn?t think they could get the life jackets on if they got them out of the bag,? said Lumgair.
Lumgair said the VMRC pilot had been talking to a fish spotter pilot who mentioned ?a white buoy? in the water, which turned out to be Sorrell?s overturned boat. Adams flew over the two survivors and radioed to the spotter pilot to have menhaden boats in the area send small boats to rescue the men.

By the time rescuers got to Sorrell, it was too late, said Lumgair.
The U.S. Coast Guard sent a 41-foot boat from Cape Charles and a 21-foot rigid hull inflatable boat from Hungars Creek, which is just south of where the capsizing occurred.
The survivors were transferred from the menhaden boat to the Coast Guard boat, which took them to Hungars Creek near Nassawadox.

The survivors were not injured other than being in a state of shock, said Lumgair.


· Banned
3,311 Posts
What a terrible story. Once again, I can't figure out why so many boaters keep their life jackets hidden and stored away in places that are tough to get to in a hurry. I need to post a photo of the inside of my cuddy cabin. All you see are life jackets lined up along the walls. It's bad enough that boaters don't wear them. But why on earth hide them???

On another note, GoodNightMoon, the boat looks great. I love the graphics! And can that marina be anymore scenic? I love it. What marina is that and if you don't mind, what are they charging you for the season?

· Registered
322 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hey Doc,
That picture was taken during a visit to Sag Harbor. The dock is a town dock for transient boaters. They charge $1.00 per foot for 4 hours. The boat looks sharp with the bimini top up, but we had the top down that day.

As for the graphics, I designed and ordered them online through, it was fast, simple to install, and relatively inexpensive, and the graphics are guaranteed for seven years. They have excellent customer service!!! I had a couple of questions, so I called and spoke to a rep, who was very helpful. She then showed me via email how the graphic would look. I got my graphics within a couple of days.

I keep my boat at Larry's Lighthouse Marina, on Meetinghouse Creek in Aquebogue. I cannot say enough good things about Larry's Lighthouse! The marina is absolutely spotless. There is a restaurant, swimming pool, showers, laundry facilities, picnic area, gas dock, and full service maintenance and repair facilities. The people there are real professionals who are committed to providing excellent service and accommodations. Meetinghouse Creek is also very picturesque. I don't have any pics of the marina yet, but they have a website:
This year, the rate was $1600.00 for the season, which ends October 15. Next year I think it goes up to $1700 for my boat (21'). The rates for 2003 are posted on the website.

In the meantime, here's another picture that my husband took on the way in to Meetinghouse Creek on Sunday evening, after a day of fun in the sun. It was taken on Flander's Bay.
I have to work on my scanning skills - my scanned photos are a little grainy.


· Registered
322 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Eeesh! I got off topic there, didn't I?

Let me redirect :)

Maybe this tragedy could've been avoided - it's easy to play Monday morning quarterback, and I don't want to minimize the tragedy, but certain things happened here that shouldn't have....

1. Accessibility of lifejackets: Seconds count. They've got to be out and ready. I like Doctorfish's idea.

2. Check the bilge pumps and all other safety equipment before getting underway.

3. I'm not sure what caused the boat to become swamped but perhaps the captain had the stern to the waves for a period of time? This must be avoided, especially with outboard engines!

4. Keep an eye to the weather, the wind and the sea. Conditions can change quickly and without warning, especially in bays!
I think people get a false sense of security because they're in a bay. Long Island's sheltered bays and waters are notorious for kicking up with a sudden change in wind speed/direction. It can get really nasty out there, real fast.

5. Know your limitations and the limitations of your craft - be cautious and defensive.

6. When conditions begin to deteriorate, head for a safe haven. If you're too far away to make it to your home port, you should know where the nearest safe harbors are located along the route to your destination, before you head out, so that you can find safety in deteriorating conditions.

· Banned
3,311 Posts

Your photos are probably fine. They just look "grainy" on this website because the server automatically reduces their resolution so they don't use up too much memory and bandwidth.

I started another topic asking for cool sunset/sunrise photos. Feel free to add the above photo.

As for bays, you are SO correct. There are MORE obstacles to hit near shore or in the shallows than in the deep. Boaters fail to see this. If given the choice, I'd rather be stuck in the fog in the middle of the Sound or Ocean than near an inlet, channel or especially a rocky structure like a jetty.

As for the life jackets along the cabin walls, they don't take up more than a few inches of room and they actually ADD to the cushioning for the children (my kids like to jump and bounce off the walls in the cabin when we are under way.

Your other advice is all excellent. Ironically, the vessel those men were in was a CATAMARAN. Those of you who are not familiar with these twin-hull crafts would find it interesting that Catamarans or "Cats" are known to be the most seaworthy of all hull types.
1 - 6 of 6 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.