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PBer falls overboard and boat runs aground at Catalina

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Captain-less Boat Crashes Into Island
Officials find the Heather run aground on Catalina with the engine running and no one on board. The owner is rescued hours later.

By Hector Becerra, Times Staff Writer

When county fire Capt. Steve Escoto and the other rescuers hopped aboard the 50-foot vessel that had run aground on the rocky shores of Catalina Island on Thursday, they expected to find a wayward sailor.

The engine was running and steam was streaming out. But when rescuers searched the Heather, they found no one on board.

"You start thinking about the driver. Did he have a heart attack?" Escoto said. "The boat was running, so somebody had to start it. Where were they?"

So began an hours-long mystery in the Catalina Channel.

Five boats, four from the county's Baywatch and one from the Coast Guard, searched a vast area between Catalina and the mainland, and along the coast between Marina del Rey and Palos Verdes, Coast Guard Lt. Tony Migliorini said. A Coast Guard C-130 and three helicopters criss-crossed the channel.

Three hours later, the skipper of the Heather was found.

Craig McCabe, 59, â?? wearing only shorts and a T-shirt â?? was clinging to a buoy about a mile from the Port of Los Angeles.

Authorities believe McCabe fell overboard and that the boat somehow made it 26 miles across the channel unmanned.

Lance McCabe told Coast Guard officials that his brother was doing some work near the back of the boat off Palos Verdes when a swell rocked it, knocking him overboard.

McCabe was able to grab onto some driftwood, paddle to a buoy and hold on, Migliorini said.

He was found around 2:15 p.m. by people in a pleasure craft. Moments later, Lance McCabe â?? who mounted his own search after the empty boat was found â?? arrived and plucked him out of the water.

Migliorini said it appears McCabe fell off the vessel around 9 a.m., meaning he was in the water for about five hours.

He was suffering from hypothermia and was taken to St. Mary Medical Center in Long Beach in stable condition.

"He's in pretty good condition all things considered, because that was a considerable amount of time to be in the water," Migliorini said. "It's cold out there."

Avalon Baywatch Capt. Steve Kirkland said it was fortunate that McCabe's vessel, by seeming chance, ran aground on Catalina rather than traveling even farther out into the ocean â?? or worse, crashing into another vessel in the busy channel.

But Kirkland said he could see how some boaters would prefer for the boat to have simply run out of gas in the middle of the ocean.

That way it would remain undamaged, Kirkland said, and "someone could pick it up and have it brought back to me."

This is not the first missing-boater mystery on the shores of Catalina.

Escoto said about a year ago, rescuers searched for a survivor after a vessel was found grounded on the island.

When rescuers shut down their search, "the guy came out from behind some rocks," Escoto said.

It turned out the man had accumulated a number of tickets and knew that if he had been found after wrecking his boat, he would probably lose his marine license, and worse.

"He was trying not to get caught," Escoto said.

Dive Deep and Fish Hard!

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Glad he was found OK. Wear your life vest and kill switch when your by yourself!!! That is a good AP!

Happy to hear there were no fatalities.

Parker 2320 'FloMar'.
saw this on the news. this guy is lucky to be alive.

Gettin' Ugly
Damn lucky that thing didnâ??t make into Avalon Harbor by chance. Could you imagine the damage that could cause? Guy is very lucky. He should have had a life vest on if he was solo like that. I mean the Mustang type vest that inflates when you hit the water.

Thanks for sharing. Heard it on the news this am.
Yep he is one lucky guy!

Even with a life vest most people would not live 5hrs in 58 degree water.

Dive Deep and Fish Hard!

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Glad to hear he is OK. According to the TV news, he had to deal with a territorial sea lion for his spot on that bouy. The reason he fell off his boat is that he went to check something on his bow while the boat was running and a wave bounced him into the water. He thought the boat would circle but instead cruised staight to catalina.

The main lesson learned here is when fishing solo is to turn off the engine or put it into nuetral before leaving the helm.

"Trusty Rusty"
18' Bayrunner
Missing boater found clinging to buoy
By: North County Times wire services
SANTA CATALINA ISLAND - A 59-year-old man whose boat arrived in Catalina with no one aboard was found Thursday clinging to a buoy about a mile from the Port of Los Angeles, according to a Coast Guard lieutenant.

Craig McCabe was found by boaters aboard a pleasure craft about 2:15 p.m. McCabe's brother, who had gone searching for him in his own boat, arrived at the scene moments later, said Lt. Tony Migliorini of the U.S. Coast Guard.

McCabe told rescuers he fell overboard off Palos Verdes and swam to the buoy outside the Port of Los Angeles. When found, he was wearing only shorts and a T-shirt.

McCabe suffered moderate hypothermia, ABC7 reported.

McCabe's body temperature was 90 degrees when he arrived at St. Mary Medical Center in Long Beach, but his temperature was increasing and he may be released tonight, Dr. Jonathan Lawrence told ABC7.

The water temperature was about 58 degrees.

Coast Guard officials who talked to McCabe's brother said he was working on something at the rear of his book off Palos Verdes when a swell came along and rocked the boat, Migliorini said.

McCabe fell overboard and tried to grab a little dinghy the boat was towing, but was unsuccessful.

He was then able to grab hold of some drift wood and held onto until coming close to the buoy.

McCabe left Marina del Rey about 8 a.m. The accident occurred about 9 a.m., Migliorini said.

The search began about 11 Thursday morning across a large section of ocean between Marina del Rey and Catalina after McCabe's empty boat arrived in((( Avalon harbor.)))

The Coast Guard received a report from a lifeguard at Catalina who said the "Heather" had run aground and its engine was still running, Migliorini said.

No one was aboard the boat, which was registered as being out of Newport Beach.

Five boats, four from the county's Baywatch and one from the Coast Guard, searched a large area from mid-channel between Catalina and the mainland, and off the coast between Marina del Rey and Palos Verdes, Migliorini said.

A Coast Guard C-130 and three helicopters were also used in the search from the air.

McCabe, an attorney, is from Newport Beach, ABC7 reported.
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Seen him on the news this morning. Said the boats for sale....
lobster hoop

Says he was checking the prop because it might have been wrapped around a line for a lobster hoop
That must have been a 10,000 to one that his brother should spot him.
Clinging to a bouy full of seals one which mad his presence felt.
Now if we could only find Olivia Newton Johns husband/fiancee somewhere in Europe we would solve that one as well.
Another Mr. Limpett sighting, seems like every week lately. How to fall off a 50 footer no less. Dude needs a bigger boat, Glad it did not run into another boat at Cat.

Hos the song go? Id like to be under the sea:
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