DECATUR, Ala. -- Three boats sunk off Ingall's Harbor Saturday morning. Alabama State Troopers say rough water led to boating issues shortly after the start of the Winter Blues on Wheeler catfish tournament.
One boater, George Cuvar, says the waves scared him to death. "It's going to be a while before I ever get back out on the water. The waves were coming over the front of the boat. We tried to nose the boat up but it didn't do any good. Our boat sunk."
Another boater, Jason Clark, says he saw 7 to 8 foot waves. "It's 4 o'clock this morning when they launched us," says Clark. "We came out of the harbor, into the main channel. I went about a mile up... and it was just 7, 8 foot swells come over and just took over the boat."
Trooper Larry Adams says strong winds were the main cause of the large waves.
"When you got a situation like today with the weather," says Adams, "You've got a strong current because of all the rain and then you have a northwest wind that's gusting 25 or higher... when that wind meets the current, you get pretty large swells here on the lake."
Initially, officials reported six boats missing when the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency arrived to help with the search and rescue. Within just a few hours, crews accounted for all boats and teams.
Cuvar says the damage could have been prevented. "The tournament director failed to reschedule or try and stop the boats," says Cuvar. "He should've called the tournament ahead of time and rescheduled it for the next day which was nicer."
WHNT News 19 has reached out to Fishlife, the event organizer, for comment. We have yet to hear back.
State troopers said no injuries were reported and everybody was found safe.
A tournament participant told WHNT News 19 the tournament was canceled after the incident and was rescheduled for Sunday, January 5.