Amid rough seas and strong winds, boaters were rescued in two separate incidents with assistance from a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter Thursday in Beaufort County waters.
In Calibogue Sound off Hilton Head Island, two people were pulled from a 55-foot shrimp boat after it began filling with water shortly after noon, according to Operations Specialist 1st Class Chris McDonald at Coast Guard Base Charleston.
Another shrimp boat -- the Daddy's Girl, owned by Bluffton Oyster Co.'s Larry Toomer -- arrived before the Coast Guard did but was unable to get close to the other boat because the water was too shallow, McDonald said.
A Coast Guard boat launched from Tybee Island took the passengers on the Justin Bradley to Harbour Town, while a Coast Guard helicopter already in the air was diverted to the scene, McDonald said.
As the helicopter headed back to Charleston, the crew spotted an overturned boat near the Harbor Island Bridge in northern Beaufort County.
Two of the 15-foot boat's three passengers were rescued by Fripp Island Sea Rescue, according to skipper Paul Field.
The third passenger swam to shore to notify authorities and was later accounted for, Field said.
Field said authorities have yet to determine where the boat capsized, but windy conditions and choppy seas likely were to blame.
"They had no business being out there, absolutely none at all, not in a boat that size," Field said. "I don't know what they were trying to catch, but it certainly wouldn't have been worth their lives."
Back in Calibogue Sound, the Justin Bradley drifted and ran aground near the shore of South Beach in Sea Pines. A towboat attempted to re-float the vessel while captain and owner Jason Frazier watched from the beach.
"It breaks my heart right now," Frazier said. "That's my livelihood."
Follow reporter Allison Stice at twitter.com/BlufftonBlogIP.
Follow reporter Patrick Donohue at twitter.com/ProtectServeBft.