Recent responses from around the nation
HOLED — Fishing vessel Sarah-Kate sits aground in Rockland Harbor, Maine as strong winds passed through the area. The Coast Guard reported that at least five boats came loose from their moorings.
Station Rockland, Maine
The Coast Guard suspended its search for a Maine lobsterman last seen in a 21-foot skiff near Zephyr Ledges. The 24-year-old man left Matinicus Island at around 8:45 a.m. and was expected to return by 2 p.m. His sister contacted Station Rockland at 3:30 p.m. Responders searched for 28 hours and covered more than 100 square miles using a 47-foot rescue boat from Station Rockland; Coast Guard Cutters Moray and Jefferson Island; a Falcon jet and a Jayhawk helicopter from Air Station Cape Cod, Mass.; a Navy plane from Naval Air Station Brunswick, Maine; two Maine Marine Patrol boats using side-scan sonar, and about 20 local lobstermen. (Oct. 28)
Storm ravages sailboats
Station Portsmouth Harbor, N.H.
The Coast Guard responded to two sailboats broken loose from their moorings near Kittery, Maine, following severe weather that saw seas in the Gulf of Maine reach 11 to 12 feet. Station Portsmouth Harbor received a call about an unmanned sailboat submerged near the pier in Pepperell Cove. The station, which was just finishing a heavy weather training session, launched a 25-foot boat crew. Upon arrival, they reported only seeing a mast sticking out of the water. Local residents told the crew there was a second boat washed up on the beach about 300 yards from the pier. The crew relayed the hull number to Coast Guard Sector Northern New England in Portland, Maine, and they notified the owner. The sector was working with the Kittery harbormaster to identify the owner of the submerged sailboat. Pepperell Cove is usually well-protected from three sides, but with the direction of the wind and waves on that night, they were coming inside the cove, the Coast Guard reported. (Oct. 26)
Grounded fishing boat
Station Chatham, Mass.
The Coast Guard helped two members of a Chatham, Mass., fishing crew after their 40-footer ran aground near Chatham. The crew made a distress call to Coast Guard Sector Southeastern New England in Woods Hole, Mass., indicating they were grounded and taking on water. A 42-foot surf boat crew and a 44-foot motor lifeboat crew launched from Station Chatham. They found the fishing boat hard aground on the sandy bottom, listing to starboard and flooding from waves breaking over the side. Shallow water and heavy surf made it too dangerous for the rescue boats to approach, so a helicopter crew was called in from Air Station Cape Cod. The air crew deployed a rescue swimmer and a pump to the deck of the fishing boat. The swimmer instructed the crew to put on life jackets. Also present was a Chatham Fire Department response boat crew, which helped the 44-foot boat crew attach a line to the fishing boat to tow it off the sandbar and back to Chatham. No injuries, pollution or major damage to the fishing boat were reported. (Oct. 25)
Navy ship picks up sailors
Cape Cod, Mass.
Coast Guard Cutter Spencer assisted two French sailors about 350 miles east of Cape Cod after their sailboat was disabled. The two were sailing from Portsmouth, Va., to the Azores, near Portugal, when the rudder on their 38-foot sailboat was reportedly sheared off. The closest help was a Navy ship, the USS Gonzalez, which took the couple aboard for the night until the cutter arrived. The Navy transferred the two sailors, both uninjured, to the cutter and took the sailboat in tow. The cutter was scheduled to transfer the passengers and tow to the Canadian Coast Guard, near Nova Scotia. (Nov. 14)
Fishermen safe after capsize
Station Point Judith, R.I.
Three fishermen were safe after their boat capsized two miles east of Block Island, R.I., forcing them into 55-
degree water. The fishing boat called for help on a VHF radio, stating they were donning survival suits because their boat was going down. A helicopter crew departed from Air Station Cape Cod and a motor lifeboat crew from Station Point Judith. The Coast Guard also made a radio broadcast asking nearby mariners to help. When the Coast Guard arrived, another fishing boat was recovering the three men from the water. Initial reports indicate one fisherman suffered minor injuries. The Coast Guard crew escorted the good Samaritan vessel as it transported the three men to Station Point Judith, where EMS was waiting. (Oct. 31)
Missing kayaker found
Station Eaton’s Neck, N.Y.
A missing kayaker was found clinging to Greens Ledge Light near Darien, Conn., by a boat crew from the Norwalk Marine Police. He was reported to be in good health. A Coast Guard rescue crew from Station Eaton’s Neck and the Darien Marine Police had also conducted searches for the missing kayaker. The man’s dog and car were found at the residence where he entered the water. Weather conditions were reported at 45 mile-per-hour winds and 4- to 6-foot seas at the time of the rescue. (Oct. 29)
Sinking sailboat south of N.J.
Air Station Elizabeth City, N.C.
Coast Guard rescue crews from six different units — including three cutters and three air stations — responded to a sinking sailboat with three people on board about 102 miles southeast of Atlantic City, N.J. Two crewmembers were saved, while one person was recovered, but pronounced dead by the Atlantic County Medical Examiner Office. The Coast Guard began its search after watchstanders at the Rescue Coordination Center in Portsmouth, Va., received an EPIRB alert and determined its location aboard a 44-foot sailboat. The Coast Guard launched a C-130J and MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from Air Station Elizabeth City, N.C. The Elizabeth City rescue crews were unable to hoist the three passengers from the sailboat because of the rain, 40- to 50-knot winds and 40- to 50-foot seas. The rescue crew determined that in order to conduct a safe hoist, the passengers and the rescue swimmer had to enter the water. The rescue swimmer and one of the sailors entered the water to attempt the hoist, but the rescue basket and hoist cable were damaged by a large wave. The helicopter crew deployed a life raft and the sailor was placed in it. Another large wave injured the rescue swimmer and tossed him from the life raft. The injured rescue swimmer was unable to recover the man. The helicopter crew employed an emergency recovery device to recover the rescue swimmer. This manual recovery device is only used during the most extreme circumstances and the person being hoisted must be trained and wear a rescue strop. Without the means to recover the sailor, the helicopter crew called for assistance and departed for Atlantic City to seek treatment for the injured rescue swimmer. The Coast Guard then launched two MH-65 Dolphin rescue helicopter crews from Air Station Atlantic City along with a HU-25 Falcon jet and a MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from Air Station Cape Cod, Mass. Coast Guard Cutters Northland and Seneca, along with 87-foot Coast Guard Cutter Mako, were also dispatched. The Atlantic City helicopter crews were able to relocate the stricken sailboat’s crew and relay the position to the incoming Cape Cod rescue crews. Upon arriving, the Cape Cod helicopter crew recovered the sailor from the water and flew him to Atlantic City, where he was pronounced dead by the Atlantic County Medical Examiner. A second MH-60 Jayhawk rescue helicopter crew hoisted the two other sailors from the sailboat and flew them to Air Station Atlantic City where they were turned over to local EMS crews and taken for treatment. Both of the recovered sailors suffered from mild hypothermia, but were in good condition. This case was under investigation by the Coast Guard. (Oct. 29)
No fuel, no sails
Station Cape May, N.J.
The Coast Guard rescued four people who were aboard a 41-foot sailboat, 11 miles off the coast. The Coast Guard received a call from a crewmember aboard the sailboat reporting they were low on fuel and had no sails. A rescue boat crew from Coast Guard Station Cape May, N.J., took the sailboat and its crew into tow. (Oct. 28)
Child hoisted from boat
Air Station Elizabeth City, N.C.
A Coast Guard helicopter crew hoisted four adults and one 4-year-old girl to safety 175 nautical miles west-northwest of Bermuda after their sailboat was disabled. The 47-foot sailboat lost steering and propulsion while transiting to St. Thomas from Annapolis, Md. They contacted the Coast Guard by satellite phone requesting assistance. An HC-130J Hercules aircraft crew from Elizabeth City, N.C., marked the position of the sailboat and directed the Elizabeth City MH-60J Jayhawk helicopter to the site. The five people were hoisted to safety and taken to Bermuda. Winds during the hoist were more than 30 knots and seas were 15 feet. (Nov. 17)
Unconscious on the ICW
Station Georgetown, S.C.
The Coast Guard responded to a boating accident that left a boater unconscious on the Intracoastal Waterway between the North Santee River and Winyah Bay near Georgetown, S.C. The 68-year-old man was later pronounced dead upon arrival at Georgetown Memorial Hospital. The Coast Guard was notified that a 17-foot boat with two people aboard collided with a fixed aid to navigation in the ICW between the North Santee River and Winyah Bay. A Coast Guard 25-foot boat crew from Station Georgetown met the damaged boat crew in the vicinity of the South Island Ferry Boat Landing. The boat crew transported the injured passenger to medical personnel waiting ashore. The other boater was treated for leg injuries. The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources was scheduled to conduct an investigation into the cause of the accident. (Nov. 1)
This story originally appeared in the February 2009 issue.