They were fishing for bass when they spotted kayakers struggling in New York Harbor.
It was around 9:30 a.m. Saturday. The water was choppy and choppy.
“We saw kayakers coming down the river. We all said, “Wow, that’s pretty crazy,” said Sean Carkeek, captain of Warden Sportfishing, a 35-foot Henriques Maine Coaster charter boat, which had left Highlands, New Jersey, that morning with two passengers.
Three kayakers were paddling that morning: a man and woman sharing a kayak and another woman in hers, paddling with Manhattan’s skyscrapers and the Statue of Liberty in the background.
“We walked up to them, and the kayak with two people – the lady was scared to death, you can see – really shook,” said Carkeek, 39, from Middletown.
He asked if they were okay.
“We got close enough that I could yell at them and say, ‘Hey, guys, okay?’ She started screaming, ‘No, no, no, no,’ like fidgeting and turning around,” Carkeek said.
The two went into the water, swinging in life jackets.
Bill Williams, 50, of Rumson, was on the boat, filming on his phone.
“You can barely see them because it was actually so difficult,” Williams said.
He was stunned, considering how choppy the water was.
“We’re up there literally fishing in New York Harbor, and it’s windy – it’s probably 13 to 15 knots. There are almost white plugs; there are ferries, there are houseboats, there are fishing boats – go down the list. And literally there are people kayaking in New York Harbor,” Williams said with a somewhat stunned chuckle.
Carkeek steered the boat as close to the two kayakers as possible, while one of his passengers prepared a lifeline.
They helped the couple onto the boat, where they remained until NYPD and FDNY ships arrived to help them, Carteek said. The kayakers – including the third who had not returned – were boarded up by authorities, according to Carteek.
“It was really surreal to tell you the truth,” said Dyson Robinson, 42, of Houston, Pennsylvania, who was on Carteek’s boat.
He added: “It was just seeing people sitting there who needed help and (helping them).”
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Spencer Kent can be reached at [email protected].