One of two distressed mariners the Coast Guard rescued from swirling seas near the Fire Island Inlet on Friday said he knew there was trouble when the boat's transmission failed and they were stranded in the surf in the inlet's roughest part.
"The first 10 minutes was pretty rough," said Dan Zecchini, 45, of Oakdale.
Zecchini said he and his father, Daniel Zecchini, 66, of East Islip, were returning from a fishing trip when problems started with the father's 18-year-old boat.
"Before we got the anchor out, I thought the boat was going to flip," he said.
Coast Guard officials said the command center for Sector Long Island Sound was called from the 28-foot Albin at 1:23 p.m., reporting they needed rescue.
Two Coast Guard Station Fire Island rescue boats were diverted to the scene, but rough seas kept rescue crews from passing a tow line to the boat.
"Coast Guard Station Fire Island crews made multiple approaches to the anchored vessel and tried to throw lines over to tow," Petty Officer 3rd Class Stephen Jordan, a boatswain's mate at Station Fire Island, said in a statement. "With the wind and sea state, we determined it would be too dangerous to try and connect a line to their boat and the weather continued to deteriorate."
The men were rescued by a helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Atlantic City, which hoisted them to safety and took them to the Fire Island station.
A Coast Guard video of the rescue shows the men being pulled from the water by a line, with roiling seas below.
Coast Guard officials said both men were wearing life jackets, and no one was hurt.
The waves claimed Zecchini's boat, however. A towing service could not make it through the waves to retrieve it Friday evening, and within hours, the boat had sunk.
"The sea got worse, and it just got swamped," Zecchini said.
Still, Zecchini said, he's glad the Coast Guard arrived when it did. "The stress level went down by 90 percent," he said. "That was a big relief to see those guys there."