Beaufort Water Search & Rescue Squad helped a lost boater who ran out of fuel late Saturday night on Mackays Creek, after a call from an unusual source alerted rescuers to the boat in trouble -- a Beaufort bridge tender, according to a rescue squad spokesman.
Beaufort Water Search & Rescue skipper Dick Jennings said a boater and his three children were out riding and shrimping when they became disoriented and lost in the darkness.
The boater, a truck driver from Barnwell, radioed for assistance at 11:35 p.m. when the boat ran out of fuel, but used a radio band normally used by truckers.
The bridge operator at Woods Memorial Bridge, who operates the swing bridge, heard the assistance call and called emergency dispatch, who contacted the rescue squad.
Jennings said the bridge tender didn't tell the dispatcher what radio band the man was on, briefly leading to confusion when dispatchers were unable to locate him on the radio channel normally associated with boating emergencies.
Jennings said the man was disoriented by the darkness and told the rescue squad he could see a bridge in the distance. They initially thought he was looking at bridges over the Broad or Chechessee rivers before they pinpointed his position on Mackays Creek, near the bridge to Hilton Head Island.
Two boats dispatched by Water Search & Rescue helped refuel the man's boat and guided him back to Chechessee River Landing, reaching the landing at 1 a.m. Sunday.
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Map: Mackays Creek