Adam Wiseman was fishing with his friend, Troy Cooper, in the Atlantic Ocean near the North Santee Bay on Saturday morning when an ice box caused his boat’s weight to shift. The boat flipped. And within seconds, Wiseman was in the water along with a school of hungry sharks and the 300 pounds of jellyfish they had on board their craft before it capsized.
“It was less than five seconds,” Wiseman said. “We didn’t have time to make a radio call. We didn’t have time for anything.”
Wiseman’s life flashed before his eyes and he said he thought of the new baby he and his wife would soon welcome into the world. But bobbing in the teeming ocean a mile or more away from shore with no way to call for help, he said, made him feel very small, very quick.
Wiseman swam to the ice box that floated nearby and held on in a tangle of jellyfish.
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“A shark came between me and the box I was holding onto,” he said on Monday as he nursed the jellyfish stings that covered most of his body. Another shark – out to capture some of the fishermen’s spoils – knocked Cooper off the boat, he added.
The Captain Andrew – Georgetown’s oldest wooden hull shrimp boat, still in service after 48 years – was shrimping nearby when crew members saw Wiseman swimming for the ice box.
“The boat was completely under the water. It was upside down,” said Jake Wall, a crew member of The Captain Andrew.
The crew picked up its nets and set out to save the sinking vessel and its men.
Now awash in jellyfish stings, Wiseman was cramping up, Wall said.
They pulled Wiseman in first and then rescued Cooper, who was standing on the only small part of the boat’s hull that remained above water. Then The Captain Andrew crew went in to salvage the boat.
“We first pulled their nets/doors onto our deck because the turtle shooter floats were the only thing retrievable above the water,” Wall wrote on a Facebook post. Using the nets, the crew winched Wiseman’s gear up and found the boat’s bridle.
Wall jumped in the water to attach The Captain Andrew’s whip lines to the stern of the sunken vessel. Fellow crew members Jody Owens and Trey Jordan were using the winch as Captain Larry Owens put The Captain Andrew into gear to hoist the boat up from the bottom of the ocean floor 30 feet below.
Using the winch, expert boatmanship and clever maneuvers, The Captain Andrew crew was able to bail the water out of Wiseman’s boat. The crew towed the boat to the East Bay Park Boat Landing.
“It was really cool. It still doesn’t seem real,” Wall said.
Wiseman’s boat was in the shop Monday as he managed his Murrell’s Inlet restaurant, Marshview Seafood Kitchen & Bar – and nursed the jellyfish stings and the rope burns from being pulled in that he says now remind him of how lucky he was.
“I feel like a million dollars. I feel so very lucky and blessed that they were there,” Wiseman said. “They are definitely my heroes.”
The Captain Andrew was hand-crafted from yellow pine and oak in the front yard of a home on Lee Street by Captain Larry Owen’s father, Leon Jordan, and Owen’s uncle, James R. Jordan, in 1968. It has combed the waters for shrimp … assisting the occasional troubled seafarer ever since.