There’s a bumper sticker in the lobby of the Minnesott Beach ferry terminal that says “When it’s too far to swim, 1-800-By-Ferry.”
It’s something Eric Kindle knows all about.
Crew members aboard a Cherry Branch-Minnesott Beach ferry rescued Kindle from the Neuse River Tuesday after the lines on Kindle’s kite board broke, leaving him stranded in the water without a life jacket.
The crew of the Ferry Neuse had just left the Minnesott Beach terminal with motorists headed to Cherry Branch for its 4:45 p.m. run when the call came in of a man in the water near the boat’s location.
“It was real rough out there. We had whitecaps,” said David Buck, night watchman at the Minnesott Ferry terminal.
Winds at the time were blowing about 25 mph with higher gusts. The winds and the current were taking Kindle farther and farther away from shore, and the temperature was falling steadily from the 50s into the 40s as night approached.
“We had left Minnesott and we were halfway across the river,” said Capt. David A. Moore, pilot of the 180-foot ferry.
When the call came, Moore diverted the ferry from its normal three-mile route across the river and soon located the man in the water about 500 yards off Wilkinson Point, a sandy beach that juts into the river from Minnesott.
Moore had crewmen launch the vessel’s 15-foot rescue boat. Ferry workers Harold Lamoreaux and Quinten Collins Jr. pulled Kindle, his kite and kite board to safety about 4:55 p.m. Kindle, who was wearing a wetsuit, was not injured.
“He wasn’t in any distress,” Moore said of Kindle.
Moore said the rescue was rather ordinary.
“It wasn’t a big deal. It’s happened before,” he said. “It’s when somebody’s life is in danger that it gets serious. It was a routine rescue.”
Moore said crew members of the ferry system have drills every week when they launch the rescue craft, which has to be lowered into the water by a boom.
“We go through so many drills a month and so many drills a week,” Buck said. “When that general alarm sounds on that vessel, you know what it means. They were right there at the right time.”
Neuse crewmen Roy Holton Jr., Rodney Thomas and John Robinson also helped in the rescue.
Kindle, 35, who is the owner of The Bean coffee shop in Oriental, could not be reached for comment.
Crewmen involved in the rescue said Kindle offered them all free coffee if they ever came to the business.
The rescue delayed the ferry for about 20 minutes, but crews were able later to get back on schedule.