ATLANTIC CITY — The city Fire Department rescued three men and a dog early Thursday after their sailboat was blown off course and couldn’t dock at Farley Marina.
Lawrence “Larry” Beierle, 58, and crew — a 75-year-old doctor, a 65-year-old-man and a 4-year-old golden retriever named Benny — were sailing a 32-foot sailboat called Peaceful Warrior from Long Island, New York, to Norfolk, Virginia, on Wednesday, fire Chief Scott Evans said.
The crew was attempting to dock their boat for an overnight stay at Frank S. Farley State Marina about 10 p.m., Beierle said.
“We knew the wind and the water were starting to kick up,” he said.
The crew weren’t headed in the right direction, so they turned around to try to get into the marina. As they did, they came close to a jetty, hit a rock and became stuck in low water, Beierle said.
When the crew was not able to reach Sea Tow, they called the U.S. Coast Guard, who could not reach them due to the shallow water, Evans said.
About 12:30 a.m. Thursday, the fire department reached the boat at New Hampshire Avenue, Beierle said.
“I had to keep the balance of the boat to keep the safety of the crew,” he said.
Beierle said he met the other two men at a sailing club. They weren’t as experienced as he thought they were, he said. They were doing things that could have put their lives in danger, like attempting to urinate off the side of the boat, he said.
Four Atlantic City rescue swimmers brought a rope to the crew and brought them and Benny back to shore safely, Evans said.
Beierle praised the Atlantic City Fire Department multiple times to The Press of Atlantic City.
“The firemen were the real people that went out and did what they had to do,” he said.
The fire department set the sailboat’s anchor, which appeared to break overnight because Beierle found his boat washed ashore at New Hampshire and the beach Thursday morning.
He walked the boat out into the water as far as he could to reset the anchor. A nearby surfer helped him.
“They were really, really nice. They gave me a towel. They went home and got an anchor. They offered me food,” Beierle said of the surfer and the surfer’s wife.
The boat cannot return safely to the water until the Coast Guard inspects it for damage, he said.
Beierle’s ultimate destination was Folly Beach, South Carolina. The other two men wanted to sail to Virginia; from there, Beierle and Benny, a “super dog who travels with me as K-9 support,” would have made the rest of the trip solo. Benny was named after the song “Bennie and the Jets,” Beierle said.
Beierle, a contractor, said he is an experienced sailor who has made the trip to South Carolina multiple times.
“Whether the boat is damaged or not, I’m still going down by car or plane,” he said.