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Exclusive: Boater saved off Sandy Hook recalls harrowing ordeal in turbulent waters

A father and son along with two friends were rescued hours after their boat flipped over, leaving them clinging to the side in turbulent water.

Lanette Espy and Jim Murdoch

Jul 31, 2023, 11:21 AM

Updated 327 days ago

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A rescue early Sunday morning helped save four boaters who got in trouble in the waters off Sandy Hook.
A father and son along with two friends were rescued hours after their boat flipped over, leaving them clinging to the side in turbulent water. They were aware of their situation and took steps to help save themselves while waiting for help, according to details released by the Coast Guard.
The boaters were on a 30-foot Pearson flyer named "Eagle" near the Romer Shoal Lighthouse about 2 ½ miles from the tip of Sandy Hook. Tides at that time were low.
Mike Kijowski, 72, is bruised, battered and tired, but alive after surviving the ordeal. Still healing and still shaking with his voice trembling, Kijowski recalled the harrowing moments when the boat hit a sand bar.
The journey began from the Raritan Yacht Club in Perth Amboy and took him on a race around Long Island for three days. After finishing third, Kijowski and his three passengers set sail back to port – but they didn’t make it back.
To make matters worse, Kijowski's life jacket failed to inflate. He says his son kept him in a firm grip as they all held on.
“Every so often the waves would crash over the boat. Your head would be underwater, so I was constantly spitting up seawater,” Kijowski said.
Kijowski says he radioed a distress call to the Coast Guard around 2 a.m. After spending over an hour fighting 6-foot waves, strong winds, and with the lives of his son, his friends Jim and Lauren, and his own on the line, help arrived at their location not far from the Romer Shoal Lighthouse.

Tips for boaters

Kijowski says all boaters should make sure they have a working radio with a distress call, have an emergency plan, and always wear a life jacket.
“Before you leave the dock, make sure you have what you need for safety because you never know when the weather is going to change. You never know when you're going to have a boat issue and you got to keep your cool,” Kijowski said.
All four people rescued were wearing their life vests. The Coast Guard and NYFD rescued and pulled Kijowsk, his son and the two others from the turbulent water. The boaters were then taken to Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch.
As for the Eagle, the Army Corps of Engineers towed it Monday morning to Jersey City where it's now on dry land.


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