|Two guests and I were traveling north on Holland Cut just south of Frank's at about 25 mph in the "No Nonsense." One of my customers was looking back at a bass boat that was closing on us from the stern at record speed. |
All of a sudden I heard a large commotion behind me. I thought my guest had fallen out of the boat. I looked around just in time to see the bass boat's hull rocking in the water with a a large amount of debris floating all around and one person frantically swimming back towards the boat.
We turned around an closed on the wreckage as quickly as we could with caution so we wouldn't run over a disabled fisherman or some of the floating gear.
We yelled to the swimmer, "Are you the only person in the boat" to which he replied that he was. He asked us to come over and help him get in and we came up to the Ranger's hull which was right side up and one of my guests changed boats and gave the swimmer a hand then checked him for injuries. He was OK with the exception of a large bruise on his thigh and some shock. My guest gave him his coat. We picked up what debris we could and tossed it into his boat and then took his boat in tow to the Sugar Barge.
The boat was missing its engine.
My guest who had observed the crash said that the boat was trimmed very flat to the water, jumped my wake, went airborne and then buried it's bow into the water going all the way down to the steering wheel area. The engine shattered its mounts and flew forward through the air towards our boat landing only a few feet away. At the same time, the pilot was ejected as was most of the debris. The boat then twisted sideways and did three full rolls airborne before coming to rest deck up.
My guest who boarded the bass boat relayed that the boat's pilot said that he was going about 75 mph when he went airborne. He was not wearing his helmet and PFD, something he said he usually does. The boat was a brand new Ranger, two weeks old. The now missing engine was a 500 pound 250 Merc with less than 50 hours on it. Total cost of boat and motor, $69,000. As far as we know, the motor is still at the bottom of Holland cut with a shattered mount and bent and broken control connections.
When we last talked to the boat owner he said he was towing his wreck home and was going to tow his older tournament boat back so he could continue pre-fishing for the upcoming tournament.
The coming weekend will see well over 100 bass boats around Frank's. This is a big time, big money tournament with teams all the way from Japan involved. I hope they stay safe.