Notice To Mariners: Hazards exist in the Barnegat Inlet Area, Navigate With Extreme Caution! – Large wood debris is scattered across the area due to the shipwreck of the Bay Of Isles. It wrecked on the south side of the Barnegat Inlet Jetty. Debris was reported along the beaches of LBI, the inshore waters as well as the Barnegat Inlet and in numerous locations of the bay and main thoroughfares of Double Creek and Oyster Creek.
Wednesday evening May 6, 2020 the 53′ F/V Bay Of Isles, a 1975 custom wooden trawler ran aground on the Old South Jetty at the north end of Long Beach Island. The vessel began taking on water. Two passengers aboard the vessel were rescued. Due to the hazardous location of the wreck, they were airlifted off in the middle of the night. No injuries were reported..
We heard rumor through the grapevine (small talk with Coast Guard on the scene) the vessel was transiting down from New York to have some work done in NJ. It was recently for sale out of New London, CT.
How/why the vessel ended up in the bad spot is largely unknown to us at this point in time. The sea conditions on the full moon night were fair with 3′ long period swell and light winds.
Maybe it was mechanical failure. Maybe it was navigation error. One thing is for sure… it’s going to be interesting watching the removal/salvage process.
As far as environmental hazards, the proper authorities are on the scene and monitoring the situation. At 1pm (5/7/20) the onshore sea breeze started and the smell of fuel/oil was present. The vessel is believed to have four fuel tanks with the capacity to hold upwards of 800-1000 gallons of fuel. What the vessel what holding at the time of the incident is what’s important. It was said that the crew reported about 500 gallons were onboard. Why a contractor was not hired on DAY ONE to pump the tanks dry is beyond fathomable.
It was said that due to the location, “it is not safe for the removal of the fuel tank or feasible to place a containment boom.” That’s obvious by anyone who knows that area. However I fish this area regular and have spent many nights on hose same rocks where the Bay of Isles grounded. Access from the beach to the rocks is not easy but very much doable. I don’t see any reason why properly equipped salvage professionals couldn’t get out to the rock pile. Somewhat easily access the fuel tanks and pump the fuel to container trucks on the beach, container ship or barge. My assumption is it would have been an mild task with the beautiful weather that was present on Thursday and Friday. Especially with the full moon low tides in the middle of the day during high sun.
Looking at the photos from May 7th nothing was visible in the water other than wood debris (decking, planking, hatches, etc) and belongings. On the 7/8th, there was debris reported as far south as the Ship Bottom surf, Oyster Creek Channel along the sod banks in the bay and as far north as Island Beach State Part. How far the debris travels in the coming days will be concerning to navigation. Hopefully the westerly gale on Friday-Saturday (8/9th) will push the pieces off into deeper water where they sink and settle to make new structure and habitat for fish. But it could spread it all over. We’ll have to wait and see.
Thinking back the only other recent time incident that was similar to this was in 2012. This time it was on the north side of the Barnegat Inlet. A 38′ sport fishing vessel the Southern Comfort ran across the submerged section of the Barnet Inlets North Jetty. Six were aboard and abandoned ship when the vessel took on water and sunk. All were rescued.