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Tour Boat Captain Talks About Dramatic San Francisco Bay Rescue

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) – The captain of a tour boat that operates on San Francisco Bay is being called a hero after rescuing a group of tourists that could have been sunk after their small craft hit a rock.

The pleasure cruise nearly turned to panic Thursday night as the small boat began to take on water.

Luckily, a tour boat captain was there to save the day.

It was Alcatraz Cruises Captain Erik Afinson who led the rescue and helped pull all ten people to safety. The captain is affectionately known by another name.

"It's Captain Tubby," said Afinson with a chuckle. "That's what they call me."

However, the source of the nickname is not what you might think.

"I own a charter boat out of Fisherman's Wharf called the Bass Tub. And that's how I got my name. Captain of the Tub," explained Afinson.

Tourists aboard the Alcatraz Cruises ferry thought they were wrapping up their spooky night tour Thursday when they ran into a real life scare.

A group of people on a small craft boat struck a rock known as Little Alcatraz near the infamous former island prison and started to sink, fast.

Captain Tubby
Alcatraz Cruises Captain Erik Afinson -- aka Captain Tubby -- who led a dramatic SF Bay rescue on Aug. 3 (CBS)

"They definitely could have been in trouble," said Captain Afinson. "They could have ended up in the water someone could have hit the steering wheel it could have been a lot worse than it was."

Little Alcatraz is known for causing shipwrecks as it's only visible during low tide. More than 400 people were on board the Alcatraz Cruises ship watching the rescue and cheering as people climbed on board to safety.

Minutes later the small boat drifted away and sank directly to the bottom of San Francisco Bay.

"Everything happens real quick," said Afinson.

Normally the Coast Guard answers these types of calls, but Captain Tubby and his crew were in the right place at the right time.

"It was a smooth transition," said deckhand Shawn Christian. "Captain Tubby handled it like he had ice water in his veins."

If the captain was having any trouble, it was handling all the extra attention he has been getting.

"It's kind of awkward," said Captain Tubby. "I'm just doing my job that's what we're trained to do."

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