HUNTINGTON BEACH : Father and Son OK After Trouble at Sea

The rock fish were packed away in the ice cooler and the afternoon sun was just beginning to cool when Jerry Burdick and his son, David, decided to knock off from a long day of deep-sea fishing.

But when they attempted to turn their 17-foot boat for the 10-mile trek back to Seal Beach, the unexpected happened.

The engine idled noisily, but the boat wouldn't move.

"We just sat there," Jerry Burdick, 46, said Thursday.

A small part connecting the tri-hulled vessel's engine to its drive shaft snapped about 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, rendering the family boat dead in the water, Burdick said.

The two remained at sea for almost a day, prompting an all-night search by the Orange County Sheriff's Harbor Patrol and the U.S. Coast Guard.

The night of panic and worry ended happily on Thursday when the Burdicks were spotted rowing toward Huntington Beach.

"Oh boy, I am happy," Jerry Burdick said about the rescue. "We knew what was happening. Nobody else did."

Sheriff's Lt. Richard J. Olson said the Harbor Patrol received a frantic phone call from Burdick's wife after 4 p.m. on Wednesday, when the pair failed to return to Sunset Aquatic Park.

They had left the launching area in the morning for a fishing excursion near an oil platform called Eureka, about 10 miles south of Anaheim Bay.

When the motor on the boat died, Burdick and his 26-year-old son grabbed the oars and began rowing to get out of the shipping lanes.

By nightfall, exhausted from rowing but safe from collision with ships, they dropped anchor and settled in for the night. They slept fitfully.

Meanwhile, authorities began their search, which was made difficult by a heavy fog bank that moved into the area overnight.

When dawn broke, the fog still lay in a heavy blanket over the ocean, Jerry Burdick said. He and his son decided to begin the long row back to shore.

"Nobody would have found us anyway," he said.

Luckily, the fog broke by late morning and they were rescued, Burdick said.

"They were fine," Olson said. "They're just a little cold and a little hungry."

Burdick agreed. "We're pooped. We're just heading for a nap."

Burdick said the mishap was especially frustrating because he had identified the engine problem a few weeks ago, and was assured that it was "quote, fixed."

He promised to take issue with the repairman who replaced the old coupler with the new part.

The only other regret?

"We lost our rock fish. They spoiled on us," Burdick said.

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