Dive boat death in Pompano

4:26 PM EST, November 22, 2012

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One person died and one other person was hospitalized after a commercial dive boat was hit by a massive wave and capsized Thursday afternoon just outside Hillsboro Inlet, officials said.

The Broward Sheriff's Office confirmed the death of an adult female about three hours after the incident happened and also clarified earlier reports that up to four people had been taken to Broward Health North. The condition of the second person taken to the hospital wasn't immediately known.

Pompano Beach Fire Rescue was called to the scene shortly before 1 p.m. and arriving crews saw the 45-foot catamaran "in pieces, upside down in the water," said agency spokeswoman Sandra King.

Lifeguards from city's Ocean Rescue division were immediately notified and took to wave runners in order to start rescuing the dive boat passengers.

Skip Morris, 58, of Lighthouse Point watched the incident unfold from his boat at the mouth of the inlet and said he saw passengers "launch" off the boat after it was hit by a huge wave and began to roll.

King said there were a total of 23 people on the boat – 21 divers and 2 crew members – who were heading back to the dock after a day of diving. Everyone has been accounted for, she said.

The dive boat was identified as the Coral Princess, owned by South Florida Diving Headquarters of Pompano Beach. The boat's captain was Dennis Winchester, 23, said Dani Moschella, a Sheriff's Office spokeswoman.

The U.S. Coast Guard, Broward Sheriff's Office, Fort Lauderdale Police Department and the large on-water assistance provider Sea Tow Services International also took part in the rescue operation.

"Captain Bob Casey pulled seven people out of the water," said Lisa Morgan, a Sea Tow dispatcher

Though a scenic South Florida day, conditions on the water on Thanksgiving were dicey. Morgan said the seas were running 5 to 7 feet during the day with a brisk wind from the north at 18 to 25 knots.

This developing news story will be updated as soon as additional information is available.

Copyright © 2012, South Florida Sun-Sentinel


  • JustTVHJustTVH Posts: 106 Officer
  • copout@castaways[email protected] Posts: 5,779 Admiral
  • lemaymiamilemaymiami Posts: 3,292 Captain
    I'd sure like to know how many passengers that craft was certified for. Plenty of time now to investigate... shame that someone died.
    Tight Lines
    Bob LeMay
    (954) 435-5666
  • reel stamasreel stamas Posts: 6,153 Admiral
    A cat dive boat swamped/capsized up here off the panhandle this year... Makes me wonder if cats are particularly dangerous if the weight gets unevenly distributed...
    There should be NO Commercial Fishing for any fish species considered 'Over-fished' , 'Undergoing Overfishing' or Subject to Recreational Seasons, Limits, or Closures... Game Fish Status IS the Answer !!!
  • INTREPID377INTREPID377 Posts: 3,737 Captain
  • chiliandochiliando Posts: 609 Officer
    Very sad..........
  • INTREPID377INTREPID377 Posts: 3,737 Captain
    I know cats are great in a chop but I've always thought they were difficult to handle in truly rough seas. Something to think about when considering your next boat and when to use it.
  • frankthetankfrankthetank Posts: 863 Officer
    my thoughts exactly weather called for 5-7 im sure there were some 9s mixed in.
  • anejo22anejo22 Posts: 1,511 Officer
    cats suck in a following sea.they will go nose down if you cant keep up with the wave.
  • lemaymiamilemaymiami Posts: 3,292 Captain
    "23 people on board"..... You suppose that might have had something to do with it? That's why I'll be following this to see what the investigation reveals....
    Tight Lines
    Bob LeMay
    (954) 435-5666
  • hhfishermanhhfisherman Posts: 97 Greenhorn
    And a 23 years old captain?
  • DudeDude Posts: 1,789 Officer
    The Captain was 53 YOA.
  • hhfishermanhhfisherman Posts: 97 Greenhorn
    The boat's captain was Dennis Winchester, 23, said Dani Moschella, a Sheriff's Office spokeswoman.
  • locoloco Posts: 1,294 Officer
    Saw an article this am that the boat capsized either in the inlet or just outside.. I wonder if there was a strong outgoing tide at that time... or if the boat just surfed down the face of a wave and the bow caught and made a snap turn... (like cats will do) and shifted the weight on board and over she went...

    what ever happened that had to suck...
  • INTREPID377INTREPID377 Posts: 3,737 Captain
    The boat's captain was Dennis Winchester, 23, said Dani Moschella, a Sheriff's Office spokeswoman.

    Pretty sure the article above has that wrong. I've seen several subsequent articles that reference a Captain in his 50's.
  • tarponhuntertarponhunter Posts: 319 Deckhand
    i imagine that the tide was outgoing and when you combine an outgoing tide with the nice swell we have had over the past few days hillsboro can get pretty dangerous. great surfing waves though.
  • lemaymiamilemaymiami Posts: 3,292 Captain
    Yes, all of our east coast inlets can get rough - and occasionally flat dangerous.... I made the remarks about passenger capacity for a different reason entirely.... I've actually seen more than a few supposed "vessels for hire" at one ramp or other (particularly in the Miami/Miami Beach area) that were so grossly overloaded that they might have had trouble just docking. Mostly I'm talking about vessels that cater to private parties, etc. Most of what I've seen is late night stuff as they were discharging passengers (many, were in no shape to fend for themselves at all if they ended up in the water).

    Hope that's not the case here, and I'm well aware that most operators are safety conscious and obey all the rules they're supposed to about passenger load, safety gear, etc. Maybe what I've seen were "gypsy" operators without any license at all but they were clearly putting their passengers at risk...

    Like I said in my first post... we'll have plenty of time to find out the circumstances now... shame someone died first.
    Tight Lines
    Bob LeMay
    (954) 435-5666
  • Conch27Conch27 Posts: 218 Officer
    I had my family from Ohio in town and we took a ride to Hillsboro inlet around 9 am. We watched that boat go out and I told my family to call me a whimp cause I'd never would take that boat out of our inlet not to mention reenter the inlet on that incoming tide. It looked like they were going to capsize on the way out! I'd imagine the waves were stacking up, I would have gone south and enter through port everglades.
  • dpdashdpdash Posts: 5,359 Admiral
    I took my 32' Luhrs out Wed afternoon the day before this and there was a nice swell breaking across the inlet, with faces of the waves about 4-5'. If you timed the sets, not an issue. I had one start to break as I put the nose into it and got over it before it broke then the ocean was fine. I took out my 13' whaler on Saturday and the same conditions were there, we went around the south end skirting the sets and fished just fine. I would guess that the captain mistimed a set coming in and it caught the stern and flipped it. Either way, it's looking like operator error, bad things happen to good captains.
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