A sailboat running on autopilot became stranded on a Jersey Shore beach Monday morning after its captain had to step away to use the bathroom.
Steve Strickland told NBC10 he was headed to the Chesapeake Bay from Queens, New York when nature called and he had to put the boat on autopilot. Unfortunately, he said, the autopilot turned off.
“I had to use the bathroom and I set the autopilot, and I went down into the hull and the autopilot shut off,” Strickland said.
The boat ended up hitting a rock jetty before getting stuck on the sand at 9th Street Beach in Ocean City around 4 a.m., city spokesman Doug Bergen said.
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Lifeguards closed the surrounding area to swimmers before the boat was towed away in the afternoon. In the intervening hours, the spectacle drew plenty of curious onlookers, including Margo Graham, who was visiting the beach from Quakertown, Pennsylvania.
“It makes Labor Day exciting,” Graham said as the boat swayed among the waves in the shallows behind her. “I mean, I like to watch people, but this is even better.”
For Strickland, the ordeal constitutes “a lot of headache and a lot of money” just three weeks after buying the vessel.