March 29, 2018
By Ed Byrne The Brillion News
GREENLEAF – Town of Wrightstown supervisor Jesse Juedes, his wife Amanda Novitski-Juedes and their three boys all survived after their charter boat caught on fire at sea.
The family was on vacation in The Bahamas and had taken the 55-foot charter boat out to sea on Tuesday, March 20.
“After a beautiful day on the water, we were about 20 minutes from our dock when our boat caught on fire,” Jesse Juedes wrote in a Facebook post. “We believe it started in the engine room, but within minutes, we knew we had an emergency on our hands … It happened fast.”
Juedes said everyone went to the back of the boat, getting ready to abandon ship and jump overboard into the water. There were 11 people on the burning boat.
Then they saw a boat racing toward them from a distance.
“The Coast Guard came and several other boats in the area then came to make sure everyone was safe,” Juedes said.
That was the most important thing, Juedes said: everyone was safe.
“We lost a lot of ‘stuff,’ which can be replaced,” Juedes said.
Amanda had taken a lot of photos, but her camera was lost in the fire. Luckily, she had posted many photos to Facebook.
“We lost almost all our cash, wallets, credit cards and IDs, but our passports were safe in our room,” Jesse said.
Amanda said the incident could have been much worse.
“The fact that no one got hurt or
burned is a miracle all in itself,” she wrote. “We 100 percent had a couple of guardian angels with us … While this ranks at the top of the list, the past few years the boys have encountered several instances where you could almost feel the hand of God around them,” she said,. “Say your prayers, in times of thanks and distress; He is truly there.”
Amanda also had advice for parents: “If you don’t have your kids in swimming lessons, do it now! I knew, as I was about to send the boys into the water that they could swim well enough to save their lives, and at a minimum, would be able to tread water until help arrived.
The ability to swim was doubly important because, although there were life jackets on the boat, several adults couldn’t swim and the life jackets were not accessible because of the fire.
“Get your kids to swimming lessons,” Amanda said.
Please see the complete story in the March 29, 2018 edition of The Brillion News.