Three people clung to a pier when a fishing boat took on water near a jetty Sunday morning.
Seattle resident Steve Crane said strong currents pressed his lower body under water for 20 to 30 minutes Sunday morning near Chinook, Wash., before the U.S. Coast Guard rescued the stranded boaters.
Crane and his 10-year-old son Elliott boarded Dennis Dobson's charter fishing boat, the Master Baiter, at about 5:30 a.m.
As they approached the jetties past Sand Island, near Chinook, strong currents drove the boat into one, Crane said. As the boat submerged, Dobson pushed Elliott up onto one of the 2-by-4 beams on the pier.
Neither Dobson nor Crane were wearing lifejackets when the boat began to sink, Crane said. Crane balanced one foot on the boat and the other on the pier, while Dobson handed him a life preserver.
"I was in the water the longest," Crane said. "The only thing not in the water was my arm and my head. Terrifying."
Another boat saw the three and called the Coast Guard at 6:38 a.m., Petty Officer 1st Class Jon Nolan said. A 23-foot safe boat and 47-foot motor lifeboat raced to the area and rescued the three people, but were unable to recover the boat, which remained shoved against the jetty. The three escaped with only cuts and bruises.
"We're pretty upset about this happening," Crane, an attorney from Seattle, said. "We should not have ever been put in this position."
Dobson refused to comment on the incident.
Near the jetties, the unpredictable current moves as fast as five or six knots - capable of forcing an under-powered boat against a wall, Nolan said.
"Once you get up into the jetties, it's very dangerous because you have a lot of currents pushing," Nolan said.
Crane said the boat had a 200 horse power mercury engine, which Nolan said isn't a weak engine.
"I don't understand how the boat capsized," Nolan said.
Nolan said the Coast Guard Marine Safety Office in Portland will investigate.