Local crab fisherman credits survival training and Coast Guard for saving crew


TRINIDAD, Calif. (KIEM) – The crew of a local commercial crabbing boat was rescued by U.S. Coast Guard Sector Humboldt Bay, over the weekend, after their vessel had engine trouble and ultimately sunk of the coast of Agate Beach.

Redwood News spoke to the captain of that sunken crab boat, he credits his training for not only saving his life, but also the lives of his crew. 

“They are just going to circle us until we go down or we really need them,” said Justin Zavoral, who was on the boat when his captain called for rescue.

Video captured from the Fishing Vessel Jeannie II shows a coast guard helicopter hovering the distressed crab boat.

“A sign of relief came over me I knew that rescue was there and grateful,” he said.

Grateful his captain was there to lead the crew – this was Zavoral’s first day on the job.

“We have to keep our head in the game even when things get critical cause it happened so fast,” he said.

Captain David Rohbrach says, his crab season ended before it started.

“I was going to set some gear inside the engine over heated and broke down, things can get, go bad in a real quick hurry,” he said.

Rohbach says – when he lost power – his boat started drifting toward the shore – worried his would roll over he radioed the coast guard.

“When this happened, I knew exactly how to handle it, what to do, I didn’t have to second guess anything,” he said.    

Required safety training helped him remain calm – which allowed him to follow proper procedure.

Rohbach, Zovaral and Kenny Lockhart put on their survival suits, then waited to be plucked out of the ocean to safety.

Their vessel later discovered in pieces – debris from that wreckage strewn about the beach.

Trinidad Resident Greg, who did not want to use his last name, spotted the boat from the cliff.

“Guys are trying to make a tough living and they don’t have a lot of resources, so bunch of neighbors came down and we all just started hauling the debris,” he said.  

The owner of the sunken boat, who has lived in the area since 1952 says, was touched by community support.

“It was a great community effort, and I can’t thank the neighbors enough, that’s how we are up here,” he said.

Grace says, he was inundated with calls, to make sure he and his crew were OK.

“Trinidad Harbor is one of the nicest, most close-knit harbors I believe in California, they would die for each other up here, and take care of each other,” he said.

Grace says he also appreciates the Patrick’s Point lifeguard, the Coast Guard and Fish and Wildlife officials.

“They were all professional, and saved my guys,” he said.

Rohrbach says he is just happy he was prepared, and made the best of bad situation.

“Pay attention to your surroundings, don’t think that it can’t get bad, because it can,” he said.