A pair of tourist boat operators came to the assistance of a boat that had stalled due to engine trouble and was beginning to take on water on Saturday. Alerted by the police, the Blue Horizon and Trouble took turns towing the boat, an 18-foot Striper with five adults and one child on board.
Mike Nelson, captain of the pontoon boat Blue Horizon, said he was alerted to the boat in distress by the presence of the police helicopter overhead. He saw the helicopter and noticed the boat bobbing up and down and decided to try to help.
“It’s one of those things,” Mr. Nelson said of helping out a fellow boater. “You don’t hesitate. You don’t stop to think about it. You just do it.… It could be my turn next.”
The rescue was in North Sound between Stingray City and SafeHaven. Police responded to a call from a person aboard the distressed vessel. The Blue Horizon, at that point, was nearby.
Mr. Nelson said he began towing the boat before developing mechanical trouble of his own, and then he hailed Trouble by shining the light of a cellphone across the water. Trouble came in to take on the towing responsibilities, and they hauled the boat toward the West Bay Yacht Club.
A police boat caught up to the towing tourist boat near the yacht club channel and proceeded to ensure that none of the passengers on the distressed boat needed medical attention.
“I was on my way back in from a party trip and I saw them shining a phone light,” said Justin Rankine of Trouble. “I went over there and assisted. They said their boat engine shut out. They had no power.”
Mr. Nelson said his boat had a gearbox issue, necessitating the handoff to Trouble, and he said he was not sure if that was due to misfortune or to the extra strain of towing the boat. This type of rescue at sea happens quite routinely among the small community of boaters, said Mr. Nelson.
“It happens a lot,” he said when reached by phone on Tuesday. “The problem in Cayman is that there is no accountability or standards set for recreational boats, so people go out with all sorts of weird and wonderful things you’re not prepared for. They run out of fuel. People are going to get themselves in situations at some point. It’s a fact of life. When you see someone needs help, you help them out.”
Joint Marine Unit officers were mobilized from the Marine Base, and the Port Authority was notified and sent VHF hails to vessels in the area near the boat. The police helicopter arrived quickly, and shortly thereafter the rescue began in earnest with Blue Horizon and Trouble sharing the duties, police said.
“We would like to acknowledge the quick response of boat captain Mike Nelson of Blue Horizon and boat captain Justin Rankine of Trouble to the area, and thank them for the assistance they rendered,” said Chief Inspector Brad Ebanks, head of Specialist Support Operations. “Both of these vessels are commercial tourist vessels that were engaged in charters at the time with paying patrons, but their captains did not hesitate to help others in need even though this put them off schedule. They demonstrated that the safety of life at sea is paramount and is a shared responsibility.”