Hurricane conditions Thursday afternoon and evening gave way to clear skies and seasonable conditions for beachgoers flocking to Wrightsville Beach on Friday, the Fourth of July, 2014.
Masonboro Island was once again the focus for local law enforcement agencies with a command post set up at U.S. Coast Guard Station Wrightsville Beach throughout the day.
Around the peak time of 1:30 p.m. Wrightsville Beach Police Chief Dan House estimated around 200 boats were in the water around Masonboro and around 1,200 people on the island. Each year a growing number of boats have been anchoring on the banks of Masons Inlet to the north between Figure Eight Island and Wrightsville Beach. This year there were around 300 boats there at 1:30 p.m.
The command center was relatively quiet until around 4 p.m. when boats began leaving Masonboro island.
A pontoon boat loaded with around 25-30 people was taking on water in Masonboro Inlet around 4:10 p.m. when marine responders first noticed the vessel attempting to cross Masonboro Inlet. The heavy wake from boat traffic caused water to begin washing over the bow.
Wilmington Fire Department’s marine vessel forced the pontoon to go ashore around 4:45 p.m. near the coast guard station where the passengers unloaded.
There were no injuries durint the incident and no one was charged. The person who was allegedly driving the pontoon blew 0 on a breathalyzer test.
Following that incident there was a barrage of calls for lacerations from Masonboro Island and Masons Inlet.
Three of the laceration cases near Masons Inlet were due to a boat running aground just off the back channel at the south end of Figure Eight Island. The three injuries reported were a shoulder and facial laceration, lower back laceration and inner lip laceration. New Hanover County EMS also said one of the patients had an orthopedic shoulder injury. All patients were transported to EMS crews standing by at a nearby marina and all were in stable condition.
Earlier in the day Wrightsville Beach Ocean Rescue also assisted people attempting to swim across Masons Inlet. Ocean rescue reported that it appeared the swimmers were under the influence.
Multiple swimmers also had to be monitored crossing Masonboro Inlet throughout the day.
On the beach strand ocean rescue director Dave Baker said there had only been a few minor rescues and missing children but that it had been a standard day compared to what it could have been.
“We are fortunate that the ocean laid down enough after Hurricane Arthur came through yesterday,” Baker said.