New Jersey

Whale Flips NJ Fishermen's Boat, Tosses Them Into Water: Officials

"He came up underneath the boat, lifted the whole boat out of the water," one of the fishermen says

What to Know

  • A whale flipped a boat in the waters off Long Branch in New Jersey, tossing two fishermen into the water, state police say
  • Other boaters moved in and rescued the men from the water
  • Nobody was hurt, officials said

It was high drama on the seas off the Jersey Shore Thursday when a whale capsized a fisherman's boat and the two men aboard had to be rescued by a retired firefighter who happened to be nearby. 

The two fishermen, out to catch fluke, were about 50 yards from the beach in Long Branch when they suddenly felt their vessel, named Kaptain Obvious, flip -- apparently by a hungry whale chasing baitfish.

"He came up underneath the boat, lifted the whole boat out of the water," one of the fishermen, Bill Sobeck, told News 4 New York on Friday, describing a "thud" sound when the whale hit the boat. 

"I could feel myself being thrown up. I don't know what I hit on the way up to scratch my face up," he said, sporting cuts on his nose and chin. "But I do remember landing in the water on my back."

The two were pulled to safety aboard the boat of retired Trenton firefighter Gary Szabo, who raced to the rescue when he heard the may day call.

"We watched the whale, and all of a sudden the boat goes wheeew... and it's gone," one of the fishermen is heard telling Szabo in the video. 

Szabo says he's "never even heard of a whale capsizing a boat except Moby Dick."

Captain Ahab aside, a whale upending a vessel does occasionally happen -- like in Margate two years ago, just a few hundred yards from the beach, when a humpback whale struck the boat from behind.

The boat took the brunt of the damage, and has been towed in for repairs to its T-frame top and engine. As soon as that's done, Sobeck say he's going back out, with one caveat. 

"If I ever see a whale again, it'll be, 'Hi, how you doing, hold up for a picture. I'm outta here,'" he laughed. 

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