A power boat operated by an experienced charter captain sunk on Sunday after hitting a submerged object off the southwest corner of Anclote Island.

  • Incident occurred Aug. 13
  • Only minor injuries reported

“When you’re in 12-feet of water in low tide and there’s a structure out there it has to be flagged,” said master captain David Singletary, 50. “Because nobody is going to be looking for it.”

Singletary said he wants to warn other boaters about the water hazard and hopes the Coast Guard will remove it before someone gets seriously injured or killed.

“If a child was being pulled on a tube or hit it with a jet ski… there could be a possible fatality,” he said.

Boat sank in less than three minutes

Singletary said at about 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, he was taking his wife and some friends to Anclote Island when he struck the submerged object at about 30 mph.

It punched a hole in the bottom of his 2014 Sunsation and the $300,000 boat sank in less than three minutes. Singletary managed to record a few seconds of video with his cell phone showing the boat taking on water from the Gulf of Mexico.

“We took on a lot of water quickly and I radioed the Coast Guard and got life jackets on my passengers,” he said. “Made a turn towards the Anclote and let the Coast Guard know we were going down to the bottom and I was going to try and make it as quick as I could to the shallowest water possible.”

The captain said luckily everyone was able to get off with only minor injuries but the boat is a total loss.

“One minor back injury, ankle injury,” he said. “It was a pretty good hit.”

No confirmation on nature of object

Singletary said at first the Coast Guard thought he struck a sailboat that had sunk in the area.

“They thought that possibly I struck the mast of the sailboat that they had been looking for,” he said. “That’s what I was initially told before I actually learned of this marker. Nobody’s really saying anything now that it was this marker.”

Singletary said he was told from other boaters that the damaged shoal marker is named ‘5-X’ and is a steel I-beam.

“Apparently, it’s an I-beam structure and it’s sitting inches below the surface,” he said. “My concern is just getting that I-beam out of the water.”

The Coast Guard said they can't confirm if the submerged object is a shoal marker.

“We didn’t get a location of where this happened," said Lt. Cmdr. Micah Bonner. "So, from our standpoint we’re trying to investigate further."

Concern for safety of other boaters

Bonner said Singletary’s boat sinking is the first report the Coast Guard has received about the submerged object.

“We will follow up to make sure that any hazard that is within the channel is removed,” said Bonner. “If it’s not inside the channel, we will look to identify that to make sure that we can make that area safe.”

Singletary said he has boat insurance and his main concern is for the safety of other boaters.

“Coast Guard says this is the first they’ve heard of this pylon, which I don’t know whether that’s true or not,” he said. “But my concern now is there’s so many boaters out there… that if you weren’t even in a vessel the size of mine, you could really get hurt or possibly kill somebody.”

Singletary also wants to show his gratitude to everyone who came to the rescue.

“Definitely want to say thank you to everybody out there at Anclote Island that was there to help us,” he said.