Shrimp boat captain recalls 14-hour ordeal in Pamlico Sound

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HYDE COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) — An Eastern Carolina boat captain is speaking out from his hospital bed, after spending some 14 hours floating in the Pamlico Sound.

The U.S. Coast Guard rescued Kenny Rustick and William Grant, both who are from Carteret County, around 6:30 a.m. Wednesday as they clung to debris from their overturned shrimp boat.

The Mad Lady II capsized sometime Tuesday off Wysocking Bay in Hyde County.

Rustick, who spoke to WITN’s Lindsay Oliver from his hospital bed in Elizabeth City, says they were coming back into Engelhard to drop off their catch because the weather was deteriorating.

Rustick says their port side stabilizer broke, and the boat began to list as it dragged the stabilizer. He said a cable broke on the stern, and the 35-foot boat began to take on water.

“When I saw that the boat was listing real bad and it wasn’t coming back, I told William, I said get out, we’re gonna lose her right now. Get out.” Rustick says as soon as Grant made it out the cabin door, the boat rolled over.

“I was still in the cabin, it flooded with water. I was able to get a window open, the side window on the port side, and went out that.” He said it all happened so fast they neither man had life jackets on, nor were they able to get any flares.

The two were able to cling to debris from the boat while hoping that rescuers would spot them

He said they tried to paddle to shore, but the wind kept pushing them out. The captain said it was disheartening when they heard the Coast Guard helicopter fly by them and they tried to flag them down in the darkness.

It wasn’t until around 6:30 a.m. that Grant was able to use his shirt to flag down the passing helicopter.

“Thank God for the Coast Guard,” said Rustick. “Thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers.”

Rustick has been shrimping for the past 33 years and said this was the first boat he’s lost.

Both he and Grant are okay and are expected to be released soon from the hospital.

The captain said friends are already working to salvage the boat before it receives any more damage.

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