Hey, at least they were prepared (better than most people, I’d think) . . . How many people are smart enough to have brought whistles on a fishing trip?
By SELIM ALGAR
August 9, 2007 -- Lost in a fog so thick and dark that they might well have been in the belly of Jonah's whale, six Hasidic fishermen drifted off the eastern end of Long Island for 14 hours before they were finally rescued early yesterday.
Throughout the damp night, two of the men, who'd gone on the trip wearing only their bathing suits, kept warm by sharing the traditional Hasidic garb in which their four pals were dressed.
"It was very frightening. We were just afraid of the unknown," said Levi Kirschenbaum, 22, a Brooklyn resident.
Besides Kirschenbaum, the group included Aharon Goodman, 25; Alex Levin, 23; Meni Ben-Shachar, 21, and Mendy Steni, 20, all of Brooklyn, and Motti Chazam, 22, of Italy.
Kirschenbaum and his pals went to Montauk Tuesday and hired an 18-foot motor boat from Uihlein's Marina for a two-hour fishing trip on Long Island Sound.
Everything was fine until about 5 p.m., around 20 minutes before their sojourn was due to end.
"All of a sudden, the fog came in and we were lost," Kirschenbaum said.
At one point, the group came across some buoys attached to lobster pots, and figured following them would lead to land.
That didn't work out, so the group decided to drop anchor and wait for help.
They prayed and huddled together to keep warm, advice Kirschenbaum said he'd read in a National Geographic magazine article.
As the night wore on, waves rocked their little boat, and the men feared it might capsize.
"This is the shark capital," one of them joked.
A light rain made it harder for the men to stay warm, but luckily, they were spared the violent weather that struck New York City.
Finally, at around 5 a.m., the sun began to rise and they heard horns from other boats.
"We blew our whistles, and finally someone found us," Kirschenbaum said.
A Coast Guard boat picked them up around 6 a.m., eight miles off shore.
"They were pretty scared," said Henry Uihlein the marina owner, who rented the boat to the men and alerted authorities on Tuesday night that they were missing.
"To not be able to see in the fog in the middle of the night is terrifying," Uihlein said. "They are just lucky the seas were calm and that they made it out OK."
Kirschenbaum said, "We want to thank God for this. If it wasn't for our belief in Him, I don't think we would be here."