Sailboat foundering offshore
Air Station Clearwater, Fla.
The Coast Guard rescued a man from his sailboat about 280-miles east of Cape Canaveral, Fla. The 57-year-old sailor radioed for help after his 28-footer had its sails blown and lost engine power in 12- to 15-foot seas and gale force winds. A merchant vessel heard the sailor’s call for help and relayed the message to Coast Guard rescue coordinators at Coast Guard’s District 7 command center in Miami. The motor vessel steamed off its course to assist the man. Rescue coordinators launched a C-130 rescue airplane and an HH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from Air Station Clearwater, Fla., to assist in the search. A Coast Guard Jayhawk helicopter working out of the Bahamas was also launched to assist. The motor vessel arrived at the sailboat’s position and reported that the seas were too rough to take off the man. Shortly after, the Bahamas-based helicopter crew hoisted the man to safety in the heavy seas and weather. He was brought back to the Bahamas.(Nov. 23)
Fishing trip capsize
Sector Jacksonville, Fla.
Four fisherman reported missing were found safe clinging to the hull of their flipped-over 19-foot Cobia by Coast Guard Cutter Shrike. The four men were reported missing by family members after not returning from their fishing trip. Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville coordinated a 14-hour search effort off the coast of New Smyrna Beach that included boats, helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft for a combined total of more than 1,800 square-miles. The crew of Shrike spotted the four men about 25 miles off the coast of Ormond Beach, and two of the four men had their life jackets on. Shrike planned to transfer the four men to a 47-foot motor lifeboat from Coast Guard Station Ponce Inlet, Fla., and bring them back to Station Ponce Inlet for awaiting EMS crews. The four men filed a float plan before they left, which allowed the Coast Guard to find the men quickly and safely. (Nov. 25)
Search prompted by hoax call
Boca Grande, Fla.
A search for six people sinking on a 24-foot boat off of Boca Grande, Fla., was confirmed a hoax call. Coast Guard rescuers were able to track the origination of the distress call through cell phone records. A teenager admitted to placing the false distress call when confronted with the records. No further information regarding the identity of the individual or the case will be released at this time due to a pending law enforcement investigation. Suspects accused of making a false distress call may face felony charges and be ordered to pay fines for, and in excess of, the cost of the search efforts. The public is reminded that hoax calls can impede Coast Guard rescue crews from responding to mariners in distress in a timely manner, putting their lives at further risk. (Nov. 28)
Charter boat collision
Station Fort Myers Beach, Fla.
The Coast Guard medevaced a male passenger from a 41-foot charter boat from Fort MyersBeach after a collision with a 268-foot dredge seven miles west of Sanibel Island, Fla. The man suffered a broken leg after the collision. The other six passengers on the charter boat were not injured. The injured man was taken to a marina in Fort MyersBeach by a 41-foot rescue boat from CoastGuardStationFort MyersBeach and transferred to local EMS. The charter boat was damaged during the accident and was taking on water, but bilge pumps were dewatering the vessel.The boat’s owner was arranging for commercial salvage. The cause of the accident was unknown at the time.Weather conditions for the area were 4-foot seas and 10- to 15-knot winds. (Dec. 16)
Missing after capsize
Station Fort Myers Beach, Fla.
The U.S. Coast Guard was searching for possible missing boaters 15-20 miles west-southwest of Sanibel Island, Fla. A boat in the area located a capsized 18- to 20-foot boat and contacted the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard had a rescue helicopter from Air Station Clearwater on scene along with two rescue boats from StationFort MyersBeach. The missing boaters were eventually located and the Coast Guard canceled all further searches. The Coast Guard located the owner of the overturned boat and found that the two people on board were rescued the night before by a good Samaritan. All persons were accounted for and the case was closed. (Dec. 17)
Search for marine pilot
Station Mayport, Fla.
Coast Guard search and rescue crews from Station Mayport, Fla., found and rescued a missing Marine pilot who crashed his AV-8B harrier jet about 20 miles east of St. Augustine, Fla. The rescue crew aboard their 47-foot motor lifeboat found the pilot in good condition, and they were bringing him back to Station Mayport for awaiting emergency medical services. Coast Guard and Navy search and rescue crews had searched for four hours before finding the missing pilot. Coast Guard assets from Coast Guard Station Mayport, Fla., Air Station Savannah, Ga., Air Station Clearwater, Fla., and Coast Guard Cutter Kingfisher from Mayport also searched for the missing pilot. Aircraft from Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Naval Station Mayport, as well as, several other Department of Defense aircraft assisted in the search. Search conditions at the crash site were 6- to 7-foot seas and 26-mph winds.(Dec. 6)
Possible passenger overboard
Station Clearwater, Fla.
Coast Guard rescue crews were searching for a 59-year-old woman who possibly fell overboard from a cruise ship off Nassau, Bahamas. A Coast Guard C-130 aircraft from Station Clearwater, Fla., searched for the woman. The crew of an HH-60 Coast Guard helicopter also searched after a missing persons report was given to the Coast Guard by the cruise ship crew. The woman was last seen on the ship in the morning. She was reported missing to the ship’s crew early in the afternoon by her husband.The crew conducted a full ship search for the woman before notifying the Coast Guard. The ship was moored in Nassau and a review of the ship’s records provided no evidence she had departed the vessel while in port. Before arriving at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., the ship retraced its course around Nassau. No Coast Guard inspection team visited the ship while moored in Fort Lauderdale. (Dec. 11)
Couple missing in New Orleans
Station New Orleans, La.
The Coast Guard was involved in the search for two missing boaters in Louisiana’s Lake Pontchartrain after their boat was located overturned in the lake. Coast Guard rescue boat and helicopter crews were searching for a man and a woman. The Causeway Police initially located the boat, a homemade vessel of about 20 feet, near the CausewayBridge and notified the Coast Guard. A Coast Guard Station New Orleans small boat crew was immediately launched to investigate the report and conduct an initial search. The crew obtained the registration number from the vessel, but lacking any correlating information such as a mayday call, flare sighting, or overdue report, returned to base. The Coast Guard resumed its search at about noon after Gretna Police spoke to neighbors who confirmed that the two had left with their boat the past weekend. Coast Guard Sector New Orleans was coordinating the ongoing search efforts, which also included rescue crews from the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, the Causeway Police and the East Jefferson Parish Levee District Police. Anyone with additional information about the missing boaters is requested to contact Sector New Orleans at (504) 846-6160. (Dec. 6)
Disabled in 20-foot seas
A sailboat that was disabled off the coast of Bermuda has received a fuel transfer and made effective repairs to return to Bermuda. The 45-foot sailboat, home-ported in Glastonbury, Conn., was disabled about 180 miles north of Bermuda amid 20-foot seas and 50-knot winds. The sailboat, with three people on board, reported loss of the main sail, engine and steering. A motor vessel, which was in the area, agreed to assist. A Coast Guard C-130 airplane from Air Station Elizabeth City, N.C., was also launched to provide air cover. The motor vessel arrived at the sailboat and completed a fuel transfer. The sailboat’s master made repairs to the rudder and planned to motor back to Bermuda. (Nov. 23)