Ferry Captain Rescues Sinking Boat

Donald Austin ended his 35-year career with the North Carolina Ferry Division with something he'd never done before -- rescuing people on a sinking boat.

The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk reported that Austin was captain on the Silver Lake as it made the Cedar Island-Ocracoke run when he saw lights in a channel.

As the ferry got closer, Austin saw three men clinging to a flipped 16-foot skiff and two others about 200 feet away, holding on to Styrofoam. The five men from Burlington had been in the 60-degree water for up to 90 minutes.

Two crew members launched the ferry's rescue vessel and within 20 minutes, the men were in the ferry's heated lounge, cold but otherwise OK.

The rescue occurred Friday night; Austin retired Monday.


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  • by Tigger Location: Craven on Oct 28, 2009 at 09:14 AM
    Great Job to the Captain and Crew! To the captain I wish you a great retirement...after working with the state you deserve it. To Jack I have to say you obviously you dont work for the state of NC. Some people are disappointed because there not getting paid what is owed to them. Would you like to work day in and day out without getting what you deserve.
  • by Jack Location: Hyde on Oct 28, 2009 at 05:45 AM
    Good Work Capt Austin and crew. We have riden the ferries alot. Everyone always so helpful and polite. Why cant the State Add that critra to personnell manual,, For the most part some of the state employees seem very disappointed with their job or would like for you to be discussed with your encounter with them.
  • by Cactus Location: Strabane on Oct 27, 2009 at 04:26 PM
    A job well done, captain. Good luck on your retirement.
  • by P on Oct 27, 2009 at 01:27 PM
    Rode the ferry many a time and had some great crews!
  • by Donald Location: Ocracoke on Oct 27, 2009 at 11:44 AM
    Mr Austin would like to also recognize his crew Ben O'Neal, Mate Walton O'Neal Able Seaman Jamie Sherwood Able Seaman Benji Hart Able Seaman Mitchell Russell Chief Engineer Joey Graham Oiler
  • by Anonymous on Oct 27, 2009 at 11:29 AM
    Great job Donald Austin, Ben O'Neal, Jamie Sherwood, Reggie O'Neal (Cotton),
  • by Jeffey Location: Dohmer on Oct 27, 2009 at 10:20 AM
    Guess those 5 guys were in some pretty deep water!!!! Good to see our tax dollars actually doing some good!!!
  • by Dave Location: Beaufort County on Oct 27, 2009 at 09:25 AM
    Kudos to the Captain and Crew. To the five "mariners" who all piled into a 16 foot skiff, what were you thinking? Oops, I guess they weren't thinking.
  • by Anonymous on Oct 27, 2009 at 08:36 AM
    Our ferry captains and crews are the best. He definitely deserves the Order of the Long Leaf Pine. We will miss you Captain Austin - enjoy your retirement!
  • by LEW Location: MOUNT OLIVE on Oct 27, 2009 at 08:18 AM
    ALWAYS A PROFESSIONAL GROUP. CONGRATULATIONS AND ANOTHER RECOMMENDATION FOR THE ORDER OF THE LONG LEAF PINE!
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