Harbor patrol tows capsized boat into bay

Authorities towed a small fishing boat into Newport Harbor on Thursday morning after it capsized the near the harbor's entrance the night before. Both men on the vessel who were fishing for lobster were unhurt.

About 7 a.m., a beachgoer spotted the boat about 100 yards offshore at Crystal Cove State Beach and notified authorities, said Orange County Sheriff's Department Sgt. Dave Ginter. Deputies were unable to reach it by boat because it was too close to shore, so a Newport Beach lifeguard swam a line to the boat.

About 10 a.m., two Harbor Patrol boats towed it through the harbor entrance channel but struggled to keep it afloat because it had taken on water, Ginter said. They eventually tied it up to a mooring, and the owners retrieved it with the help of a vessel assistance company.

About 9 p.m. Wednesday, Newport Beach police received a call that a 15-foot Hobie Skiff had capsized in gale-force winds and high seas. One fisherman had swum ashore near the harbor entrance's eastern jetty and walked up to a home on Ocean Boulevard, above Corona del Mar State Beach. Drenched, he asked a resident to call police, Ginter said.

After a fire boat couldn't find the other passenger or the capsized boat in the rough conditions, a police helicopter crew using night vision goggles saw a swimmer signaling the chopper with a light, just off Crystal Cove, authorities said.

The second fisherman swam to shore at Crystal Cove, where lifeguards inspected him, according to a police news release. He also was unhurt. Heavy surf and wind had quickly pushed the boat and swimmer down the coastline, the release stated.

"They shouldn't have been out in those conditions," Ginter said.

While people often fish for lobster at night, the conditions were too dangerous Wednesday night to be in a small boat, he said. The Coast Guard had issued a gale warning, which is a level above a small-craft warning, or the level of conditions deemed too dangerous for such vessels.

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