By CARA BETHEL
AN AMERICAN boater got a first-hand taste of Bahamian hospitality when a group of fishermen saved his life after his boat hit a damaged lighthouse near Eleuthera.
In an interview with The Big T, Timothy Pennenja expressed his heartfelt appreciation for the crew of the First One fishing boat whom he said did a fantastic job rescuing him and saving his life.
“I am originally from New York and I was in my boat headed to Exuma from Florida when the accident happened.
“I was about 25 miles off Spanish Wells, in the Tongue of the Ocean, which is a really treacherous part of water. I hit the lighthouse there and it basically destroyed my rudder; I had no way to steer my boat, it was serious and I really think I would have died,” he said.
It was the crew of the First One who came to his rescue and pulled him to safety in a difficult rescue.
“When they saw me, they sent out one of their smaller sloops to come get me to safety and they worked on my boat for hours.
“I just have to thank them, because they did a fantastic job and I really wanted to bring what they did to light, because they went beyond the call to help me.”
Mr Pennenja said that he also wanted what happened to show that the lighthouse he struck has not been operational for almost a year and a half.
“From what I have been told, this particular lighthouse went out, was fixed and then moved to where it is now, where it was destroyed again, but it still remains there.
“Where it is now in the channel is a place that is really hazardous to navigation.
“I think that this is something that needs to be addressed, because I am sure that it would be a threat to other boaters.”
As mechanics work to repair the damage to Mr Pennenja’s 38ft vessel, the Legacy, he is enjoying his unexpected, but pleasant stay in Spanish Wells.
“I love the Bahamas,” he said.