Collision shakes up anglers


Mar 11, 2001
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Collision shakes up anglers

May 2, 2001

By DAVE STREGE, The Orange County Register

The Cat Special, a 62-foot sportfishing boat, was heading right for them like a runaway train.

At first, Mike Beckett didn't think anything of it. He was fishing with his brother in-law and two friends on his boat at Santa Cruz Island.

They arrived at the island at 4 a.m. Sunday and anchored among about 30 boats, all filled with anglers seeking to catch a white sea bass.

The day was sunny and bright. The bite was slow. It was 7:30 a.m. or thereabouts when Beckett noticed the Cat Special - once a couple of miles away - getting closer and closer.

"After a while, it became apparent that, hey, this guy must not see us because he's not slowing down and he's not moving," said Beckett, 33, of Oxnard.

Beckett's 23-foot Seaswirl was a sitting duck for the fast-approaching torpedo that was about to hit his boat broadside.

No time to radio the Cat Special or hit the horn or up anchor and move. Beckett and his brother-in-law did the only thing they had time to do. They started yelling and waving their arms.

Beckett couldn't believe none of the 10 anglers on the bow of the Cat Special or the skipper, John Fuqua, could see them.

Impact was imminent.

"We knew that this was it," Beckett said. "I thought for sure we were all dead, I really did. We both just ran off the back of the boat. We jumped and started swimming as hard as we could."

The Cat Special hit the Seaswirl as the pair hit the water. With no time to get overboard, the other two anglers remained on board, one bracing himself in the cockpit, the other in the cabin.

"When we hit the water, I remember looking up and the Cat Special was on top of me," Beckett said. "I was pushing off the side of it trying not to get sucked underneath."

Fortunately, the Seaswirl, though sustaining significant damage, remained in one piece and seaworthy. It was merely pushed forward 40 feet or so by the sportboat from CISCO's Sportfishing in Oxnard.

None of the anglers was injured, but all were shaken.

"We all thought we were going to die," Beckett said. "We couldn't believe that we didn't get killed."

As Beckett swam back to his boat, he heard words that upset him.

"Somebody made a comment, 'Hey, you got men in the water,' and I heard a voice yell, 'Well, are they ours or theirs?' " Beckett recalled. "What's that supposed to mean? Who cares?"

Someone else suggested tossing Beckett a lifejacket.

"I heard another voice say, 'Ah, he's swimming back to his boat, he looks OK, he doesn't need it,' " Beckett said. "It doesn't cost anything to throw the thing."

But Fuqua was apologetic, acknowledged it was his fault, and said he had insurance and everything was going to be OK, Beckett said.

Satisfied that Beckett and his party and boat were OK, Fuqua went on to find a fishing spot and reported the incident to the Coast Guard.

Because the accident is under investigation, Fuqua said he could not talk about it.

But he wrote he is "truly sorry" in an apology issued on the popular Allcoast Sportfishing message board,

"I never saw the Seaswirl until it was 10 feet off my bow," he wrote. "He was directly in the sun glare."

Fuqua wrote that three others on the bridge and five on the bow did not see the boat, either.

Fuqua wrote that he was looking for fish, and the 20 or 30 seconds before it happened, he was looking out the port center and port side bow window at other boats.

"I was not traveling at full speed, thank God," he added.

Coast Guard investigator Troy Rentz reported that the Cat Special was traveling at 6 knots, about half of its full speed.

Witnesses on the boat told Rentz they didn't see the smaller vessel until they were right on it. Rentz reported that the radar was in operation during the accident but wouldn't say more. He said he is still investigating the accident.

Some have told Beckett his $50,000 1-year-old boat is probably totaled. He is scheduled to have experts survey the damage.

"I understand it was an accident," Beckett said. "Nevertheless, there's no other way to say it other than (he was) grossly negligent."

In shock and in no mood to fish, Beckett and the others called it a day and started pulling up the anchor.

"That's the most upsetting part of all," Beckett said. "There was no fish being caught by anybody. Right after we decided to pull anchor and go back to the harbor, we could hear everybody going, 'Yeah, fish on, fish on.' "


Mar 12, 2001
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<font face=arial size=1><blockquote><hr noshade size=1>Quote: from spectr17 on 12:54 pm on May 3, 2002
Collision shakes up anglers

....."That's the most upsetting part of all," Beckett said. "There was no fish being caught by anybody. Right after we decided to pull anchor and go back to the harbor, we could hear everybody going, 'Yeah, fish on, fish on.' "<hr noshade size=1></blockquote></font>

If that's the most upsetting part of it all, the guy should definitely see his Dr. because he must have suffered a major blow to his coconut.  Great story, Jesse.



Well-known member
Oct 18, 2001
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That sucks that this had to happen. I have fished with John Fuqua and he is a stand up Capt. When you spend that much time on the water your bound to have some sort of situation pop up in front of you.  

Paul, I agree with you , Beckett need to have his head checked :banghead:

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