Empty Boat Found Spinning In Circles Sparks Mystery 8 Miles Off Coast: Boater Dead In Water, Another Missing

The Coast Guard was alerted to a 17-foot boat found spinning in a circle in the ocean water located about eight miles off the coast of California on Sunday. The vessel was empty, with the man believed to have been operating the boat, Tuan "Tom" Tran, reported as missing.

Another boater believed to have been with Tran on the boat was found unresponsive by the harbor personnel in the water near the spinning vessel earlier in the day. That unnamed boater is dead, according to Fox News. The Coast Guard was called out to the circling boat at about 1 p.m. off the area of Pillar Point Harbor in Half Moon Bay, which is south of San Francisco by about 24 miles, according to the United States Coast Guard's press release.

The Coast Guard is currently searching for Tran in the area where the abandoned boat was found. They opted to wait for the vessel to run out of fuel before safely approaching the craft. Fox News reports that when officials first found the fishing boat, it was "spinning in circles out of control."

The vessel was spinning in circles for a reason, reported John Gonzales with the San Mateo County Sheriff's Department.

According to ABC 7 News, Gonzales said, "Once you lose control of the helm, boats are designed to circle. It's a steering mechanism. It kind of pulls forward. It pulls to the right or left and it will stay in that circle."

You can see in the video below what that boat looked like from an aerial view, just spinning at a good clip around and around in a circle. It would have been dangerous for the Coast Guard to approach the vessel as it moved uncontrollably, so they waited for the motor to fizzle out due to the engine exhausting its fuel supply.
The boat didn't appear to have any type of damage, but it was towed into a nearby harbor by the Coast Guard so authorities can go over the boat in an attempt to piece together what might have happened to the two men and the vessel. Deputy Harbormaster Cary Smith told reporters that he doesn't believe the two people on the boat had on life jackets.

He also said, "I'm not sure if they would have survived in this situation. But certainly they would have had their heads above water or long enough for somebody to have seen them."

The Coast Guard's search for Tran went on all day Sunday and was expected to continue today.

[Featured Image by Photomarine/Shutterstock]