On Labor Day weekend, Legendary Capt. Mike “the Beak” Hurt was at the helm of Chiqelin, looking for striped marlin off the Southern California coast. The crew consisted of four other people, including Beak’s son, Shane Hurt.
The fishing was picking up and the crew had spotted some of the first marlin of the season, but then some black smoke on the horizon took precedent over the fishing.
“We had seen the boat about an hour earlier,” Beak said. “We kept an eye on it, looking to see if they were doing any fishing. We had just started seeing some tailers moving down sea but then we spotted something awful smokey.”
Beak put a crewmember in the gyros and it was easy to see that the smoke was coming from a boat fire. They quickly pulled the lines in and headed towards the smoke, which was about five miles away from where the crew was fishing and roughly nine miles off the coast of Point Loma.
When they got on the scene, the entire house of the 60-foot motoryacht Trump Card was gone and the decks were ablaze. “We could feel the heat from a good 50 yards away,” Beak said.
The crew on Chiqelin made the mayday call and picked up two people that had escaped the flames in an inflatable dinghy. The boat, Trump Card, a once beautiful wooden yacht, was a total loss.
“It was the first time they had deployed the dinghy and they hadn’t practiced,” Beak said. “The owner was really devastated and his companions seemed in shock from the experience.”
For Beak, the incident hit home as he’s lost relatives in boat accidents over the years. “These people were so lucky,” he said. “Most people have no idea of the dangers involved with boating. You need to be prepared and have all of your safety gear up to date and a plan in place for an emergency at sea.”
Luckily, the passengers escaped with only minor injuries. The San Diego Harbor Patrol brought them ashore for further observation. A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter was also on the scene.
Shane managed to record the fire on his video camera and Mike Shaw snapped the photos pictured here.
The video Shane captured aired on several San Diego news stations. “It definitely added a little excitement to the day,” Shane said. “When we got there the boat was completely engulfed from bow to stern. It was not a pretty sight.”
Fire Rescue at Sea 2011