A Seastreak ferry crew came to the aid of four people on a sinking small boat in Sandy Hook Bay, N.J., just minutes before the 21' craft capsized Saturday.

Officials with Coast Guard Sector New York said watchstanders at the Sandy Hook station heard a 3:50 p.m. mayday call on VHF radio channel 21 that a recreational boat was taking on water. The watchstanders broadcast an urgent marine information broadcast on VHF, and launched small boat crews from stations at Sandy Hook and New York City.

Less than five minutes after the broadcast, a Seastreak ferry crew, on the company’s usual route between New York City and northern Monmouth County, N.J., diverted to the scene. The crew assisted the people on the boat until a 29' small response boat from the Sandy Hook station arrived at 4:05 p.m. and transferred the people off the sinking vessel before it capsized.

All four people were wearing life jackets and were safely transferred to Station Sandy Hook with no reported injuries, according to the Coast Guard.

The 21' capsized vessel was marked for navigational safety, and the owner was to arrange salvage operations.

At the time of the accident sea surface temperatures were reported to be around 51 degrees Fahrenheit, with air temperatures in the 40s and northwest wind around 10 knots. Coast Guard officials said the incident underlined the necessity of wearing personal flotation devices, noting that the number-one cause of fatal accidents on the water is drowning, “most often by sudden, unexpected entry into the water.”

Contributing Editor Kirk Moore was a reporter for the Asbury Park Press for over 30 years before joining WorkBoat in 2015. He wrote several award-winning stories on marine, environmental, coastal and military issues that helped drive federal and state government policy changes. He has also been an editor for WorkBoat’s sister publication, National Fisherman, for over 25 years. Moore was awarded the Online News Association 2011 Knight Award for Public Service for the “Barnegat Bay Under Stress,” 2010 series that led to the New Jersey state government’s restoration plan. He lives in West Creek, N.J.