SANTA ROSA BEACH — A Pensacola couple traveling back home via their houseboat during Hurricane Irma on Sept. 9 were uninjured after their boat capsized in Choctawhatchee Bay due to rough waters.
According to a boating accident report by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the couple had gone to the Saint Marks area of Florida for a scallop harvesting trip when they decided to return home after traveling for five days. The couple was traveling in their 32-foot Partycampers pontoon houseboat in Choctawhatchee Bay near the Mid-Bay Bridge in Walton County when they ran into rough water.
Conditions were clear, but the bay was still producing 3 to 4-foot waves with the wind blowing an estimated 20 miles per hour as a result of Hurricane Irma. As the vessel neared the Mid-Bay Bridge, the port side of the pontoon encountered several continuous large waves. The boat’s driver decreased the speed, but eventually the pontoon capsized.
The couple jumped into the water with their life vests and were rescued by a Good Samaritan and taken to the U.S. Coast Guard Station. A Seatow boat towed the pontoon to the Joe’s Bayou boat ramp where it was placed on a trailer.
The boat sustained approximately $30,000 in damage.