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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