Actress Recounts Rescue From Sinking Boat


Nina Hartley, an adult film actress, was one of 16 people rescued cold and wet from a sinking 44-foot cabin cruiser in the Catalina Channel off Long Beach late Thursday.

“I was terrified,” Hartley said Friday, recalling the dramatic rescue that occurred after a day of filming off Santa Catalina Island.

The last passengers were pulled to safety by Long Beach Fire Department rescuers just moments before the yacht rolled over and sank 11 miles offshore.


“They were out there in the dark, taking on water for a while when we came up alongside them,” said fire Capt. Randy Grimm, a paramedic. Grimm described some of the passengers as “mildly hysterical. . . . They had every right to be.”

No one on board required serious medical attention, Grimm said.

Rescuers said that when they arrived, water in the cabin was chest deep and the rear of the boat was sinking as waves 3 to 4 feet high slammed into the wooden hull.

The Coast Guard, which dispatched a rescue boat from San Pedro, is investigating the incident. The owner of the boat, identified as Joe Wilbur, told rescuers that he experienced engine trouble and lost all electrical power just before the boat began taking on water. Efforts were being made to retrieve the almost completely submerged boat, which was floating down the coast.

“The rescue boats got there just in the nick of time,” said Hartley. Mentioning another actress on board, Montana Gunn, Hartley said: “Most of us didn’t know much about boats. But [Gunn] had experience with boats and knew how much trouble we were in. She was very, very scared.”

Flashing strobe lights used for filmmaking helped the rescue boats find the disabled craft.

“They were extremely lucky,” said lifeguard Gary Horne, skipper of the rescue boat. “This one turned out well.”