Lines break in attempts to tow stalled casino boat
SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — A casino boat carrying about 100 passengers on its maiden trip ran aground overnight off Georgia’s coast and remained stranded today after tow lines broke in the Coast Guard’s initial attempts to free it.
The Escapade was supposed to return about 12:30 a.m., and those aboard — wearing life vests — were growing annoyed, though no injuries were reported, according to the Coast Guard and family members awaiting the passengers’ return in Savannah.
Kia Murray’s fiancee called her from the ship about 1 p.m. — 13 hours after the ship ran aground.
“He just said everybody had been getting a little irritated from being out there overnight,” said Murray, of Savannah. “But they’re keeping them calm. ... He said they’re giving them food and water.”
Crews now plan to put those aboard the Escapade — 96 passengers and 27 crew members — onto Coast Guard boats that can hold about eight people, then transfer them to a larger vessel, the cutter Maia Bray, Petty Officer 1st Class Lauren Jorgensen said.
The 174-foot-long Escapade was about 1.8 miles off the north end of Tybee Island, a popular beach destination east of Savannah, in the Calibogue Sound near Hilton Head, South Carolina, the Coast Guard said.
The Coast Guard received reports that the vessel had run aground around midnight Tuesday, officials said. The initial report from the Escape’s crew was about a malfunction of the chart plotter, part of the navigation system, Jorgenson told The Associated Press. But she said the Coast Guard hadn’t been able to confirm any malfunction yet.
The Escapade is a casino ship operated by Florida-based Tradewinds Casino Cruise. The company’s Facebook page said that Tuesday night was to be the maiden voyage for its Savannah cruise service and passengers were invited to board for free.