2007-06-29 / Community

After Ten Minutes In Bay, New Boat Owner Calls 911

By Howard Schwach

By Howard Schwach

Boat from Fire Department stands by disabled boat with Marrero and his family aboard on Sunday afternoon.Boat from Fire Department stands by disabled boat with Marrero and his family aboard on Sunday afternoon. Dave Marrero was a happy man. There he was, with his wife and two children, sailing out into Jamaica Bay in the boat he had recently purchased, but never before used.

Things were going well, Marrero told The Wave, and he was sure that even though he had never sailed before, he could handle anything that came along.

"I had the manual that the boat's previous owner had given me and he showed me all about the boat," Marrero said. "What could go wrong?"

Then, about 10 minutes after the boat had left the public boat ramp at Beach Channel High School on Sunday evening, the engine coughed and conked out.

Marrero said that he checked the manual and tried to restart the engine. That didn't work.

"We were drifting toward Broad Channel and the Cross Bay Bridge," he said. "Water started to come up over the side of the boat."

A police helicopter put two divers in the water to assist the harried boater. Marrero said later that he was embarrassed by the response, but glad to see them.A police helicopter put two divers in the water to assist the harried boater. Marrero said later that he was embarrassed by the response, but glad to see them. He said that he began to panic, made worse by the fact that his seven-year-old daughter began to cry and beg him to save her life.

Although the manual told him to check the bilge pump, and it looked dry, Marrero, who owns a Brooklyn driving school and lives in Marine Park, decided it was time to call 911.

The response was almost instantaneous, according to Marrero.

"It was like something out of a movie," he said. "People jumping from helicopters and fireboats. My daughter began to cheer."

The ex-police officer, who worked in the 83 Precinct in Brooklyn, said that he was a little embarrassed by the response, but he was glad to see those who came to help him back to shore.

"I guess that my inexperience showed and I needed help," he said sheepishly.

An FDNY boat from Rescue 3 tows Marrero and his family back to BCHS after his boat had become disabled in the middle of Jamaica Bay.  An FDNY boat from Rescue 3 tows Marrero and his family back to BCHS after his boat had become disabled in the middle of Jamaica Bay. A rescue boat from the Fire Department's Rescue 3 Unit chugged up and towed the boat back to Beach Channel High School.

Nobody was harmed, but Marrero says that he will seek the advice of professionals before he ventures out into the water again.

Marrero is glad that it's over. He's equally glad that his family members kept their heads and that that he had his cell phone.

A Fire Department spokesperson said that the incident was one of many that he sees in the bay each year and that the department was glad to see that everybody aboard the small boat was wearing a life vest.

"When the rules are obeyed, things come out all right, even in an emergency," the spokesperson said.

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