"They hit an island. They didn't hit a boat. They didn't hit a barge. They hit an island," said one passenger who didn't want to identify himself.
A mayday call was received from the 62-foot vessel Sea Adventure II at about 1:20 a.m. Friday, according to Petty Officer Henry Dunphy.
Coast Guard and San Diego harbor police responded to the area near South Coronado Island, rescuing the people aboard. Four crew members aided by the Coast Guard used pumps to keep the vessel afloat to get it back to port.
Passengers said the boat left San Diego around 10 p.m. Thursday night and had a normal trip until suddenly the boat just stopped. One man compared it to a vehicle going 15 to 20 mph hitting a brick wall.
John Deneen was in the bunk room sleeping around 1 a.m. when he heard a big bang.
There were some kids and some adults on the deck, including his son, who was knocked off his feet and fell against the live fish bait tank.
“It was freaky,” said Hilltop HS student Gary Schneep. He and a few of his friends were on the boat just for fun. Two of the teenagers were on the deck helping the co-captain when the boat ran aground. One injured his hand another said he hurt his knee and his shin.
“We knew we were safe because we knew we had help, so it was alright,” said one of the teens.
Despite the shock of the impact and a few minor injuries, Deneen said they were all very fortunate the boat was in shallow water. He credited the crew for handling the emergency well.
John Walsh, second captain on the Sea Venture II, said that he immediately got lifejackets out for passenger and crew and started pumping water that was flooding the boat.
Calls to Sea Adventure 80 Sportfishing Co. which operates the boat were not immediately returned.
Phil Lobred, owner of HM Landing where the boat is docked, says the vessel hit a rock, which put a bowling ball-size hole in the hull.
After the rescue however, passengers were questioning how the crew didn't avoid the collision.
“The rumor is and I think it’s pretty reasonable -- I mean how do you hit an island -- you had to be asleep or no one at the controls,” Deneen said.
The trip out to catch tuna cost about $135 per person plus the cost of rod and reel. After they arrived to the dock, several of the passengers were trying to arrange refunds with the charter company.