A ferry carrying more than two dozen people hit a sandbar and got stuck for hours Wednesday, spurring an evacuation on a frigid night in the waters off Jamaica Bay.
No injuries were reported in the second stranding in a month for the city's newly-expanded ferry service.
The city-sponsored, privately run ferry left the Rockaway peninsula in Queens at 5:15 p.m., bound for lower Manhattan on a 20-degree evening. About 10 minutes into the trip, "we just came to a screeching halt," passenger Jake Nicholson said.
"Everyone pretty much went flying," he later told The Associated Press by phone from the boat, stuck in the waters between Rockaway and Brooklyn. He said he was nearly tossed over the row of seats in front of him, and his phone ended up a few rows away.
Nicholson, a 21-year-old senior at Loyola University Maryland, said passengers initially were told that there was a mechanical error, then that the boat had hit a sandbar and that the captain tried to back the boat off it.
Four hours later, he, his brother, and a friend were waiting their turn to get off the chilly ferry in the small, inflatable boats rescuers were using because of the shallow water. By then, passengers were "just sitting down, trying to stay warm," said Nicholson, who'd missed the Washington Capitals-New York Rangers game that was the reason for his ferry trip.
Officials said the boat had ran into shallow waters that was about two-feet-deep, according to officials, hitting the sandbar.
Firefighters said the ferry owners originally were arranging to have the vessel towed off the sandbar, but the evacuation of the 27 people aboard -- 23 of whom were passengers -- got underway around 7:30 p.m.
All passengers were evacuated by 11:05 p.m., according to the ferry service.
The original rescue plan was for passengers to be brought to the Rockaway ferry landing, where ambulances and other emergency vehicles waited in case the passengers need them.
However, after judging wind and water conditions, officials decided to bring them to the Brooklyn Marine Terminal, where Red Cross was present with blankets and other assistance and help the commuters get to their original destinations.
Officials said the disabled boat will be towed overnight.
Officials are investigating the incident.
Phone and email messages to the ferry company, Hornblower Inc., were not immediately returned.
The ferry to and from Rockaway is part of a $335 million effort, launched this summer, to use the waterways to ease strains on the city's public transportation system. The $2.75-a-ride service is separate from the free Staten Island ferry.
Last month, more than 100 passengers were rescued from a Rockaway-bound ferry that ran aground off lower Manhattan.