GALVESTON BAY -- Two shrimpers rescued from a raging boat fire are talking about their terror at sea and their fears for the future.
The boat they were on, named Captain Hunter, caught fire as they were pulling into the mouth of Galveston Bay Friday morning. Captain Trey Branch believes a broken hydraulic hose caused the fire in the engine room.
Branch and his crew member, Cliff Dunn, were helpless as the flames spread around 9 a.m. Friday.
If we had to get into the water, we probably would have drowned because he can t swim, and I would ve tried to save him, explained Capt. Trey Branch.
The quick-moving fire destroyed the life jackets on board.
Time was running out, when a nearby fishing boat seemed to appear out of nowhere. The men on board the fishing boat were from Dallas and just happened to be out enjoying the day.
We were flapping our arms to get someone to help us. If it hadn t been for those guys, we would ve ended up in the water and probably wouldn t be standing here today, said crew member Cliff Dunn.
Dunn says he felt blessed to have survived, but the rescue wasn t entirely celebratory.
It hurts. It s like I m standing here with my arms tied behind my back, and there s nothing I can do, added Dunn.
For both men, the Captain Hunter was their livelihood.
They had been renovating the boat all winter at the Hillman s Seafood Market in Dickinson. Friday was the first time they had taken the boat out on the open water since last November.
It s all I had to support my family, and it s gone, cried Capt. Branch.
The loss hits especially hard for Branch since the vessel had been passed down in his family for generations.
I m a fourth generation fisherman, my great-grandfather, my grandfather, my dad, he added.
The boat was not insured.