UPDATE 10:09 P.M. A man on board a boat that was trying to tow the Phantom of the Aqua from a sand bar late Thursday night had to receive medical attention after suffering a fall while in rough surf.
The man was receiving treatment from Okaloosa County EMS on the beach as of 9:30 P.M. Thursday night. His condition is not known.
The tow boat he was on suffered engine troubles and had to be pulled to the beach after an unsuccessful attempt to pull the Phantom from the second sand bar. Both boats remained on the shoreline as of 9:30 p.m. Thursday night.
MIRAMAR BEACH — Crews worked for a second day and night Thursday to try and free the Phantom of the Aqua.
With the 45-foot derelict vessel stuck on a sand bar about 30 feet from the shore, workers for Panama City-based Southern Marine Services attached a wench on the boat to an anchor offshore to try to to move the boat little by little off the bar.
“It’s been tough,” said Gerald Nelson, owner of Southern Marine Services. “It’s a very time-consuming process.”
Nelson and his team along with crews from Walton County Public Works worked for about 16 hours Wednesday to excavate sand from around the boat’s hull and then pull it with another boat out into the Gulf of Mexico. They were able to pull the Phantom off the beach, but it became stuck on the first of two sand bars and wouldn’t budge.
The boat was around 150 feet from shore Thursday night, thanks to the wench, which Nelson described as sort of like a fishing rod system that pulled the boat closer and closer to the anchor.
The process, which took place largely after sunset, was a dangerous one. The Phantom was positioned right at the surf zone as waves of about 2 feet broke around it. The boat tossed and turned dangerously with the waves and even threw a crew member off at one point.
“I might just have a heart attack before this is all over,” Nelson said.
A parasailing boat arrived about 7 p.m. with more crew members, who worked into the night to try and attach lines to the Phantom to begin pulling it out. As of 8:30 p.m., the boat still had not been freed.
“We’re going to get this boat out of here if it’s the last thing I do,” Nelson said.