Post-Sandy Waters Dangerous for Boaters

As the search continues for David McAuliffe, the missing captain’s wife has a new theory as to why her husband’s boat went down.

“The propellers on the boat were all but shredded and bent,” said Lynsey McAuliffe.

McAuliffe believes the damage would have left her husband unable to steer the Cape Hatteras before it sank last Tuesday near the Great Egg Harbor Inlet. While the 49-foot sea tow boat was found, McAuliffe is still missing. Officials are also searching for Joshua Catlett, 23, who went missing after his fishing boat capsized and sank in the Delaware Bay on April 4.

Officials say the dangerous conditions in the Jersey Shore waters caused by Hurricane Sandy may have led to the accidents.

“We’ve seen a drastic change in the inlet,” said John Bodin of Shamrock Towing. “Especially after Sandy came through.”

Bodin, a friend of McAuliffe, says shifting sand has decreased the Inlet’s depth in some spots. According to Bodin, those changing conditions could easily bring a boat down.

“Most of the sand we lost from Margate and Longport has moved into the Inlet,” he said. “That has decreased the depth which a boat can run through there.”

“It has not been remarked as it should have been,” said McAuliffe. “That is the job of the United States Coast Guard.”

The Coast Guard says however that all inlets and navigational aids were repaired immediately after Sandy and verified to be in their proper position before the waterways were reopened.  While they won’t speculate on what caused either accident, they are urging boaters to navigate with caution due to debris and submerged hazards caused by Sandy.

Officials with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection say they’re making good progress removing debris from the state’s waterways. However, they are still warning boaters to be aware of potential changes caused by Sandy. Meanwhile, Lynsey McAuliffe has her own warning for those who venture in the Jersey Shore waters.

“Be very, very careful,” she said. “My husband can’t come to your rescue anymore.”

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