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Coast Guard response report

Swept off boat

Station Chincoteague, Va.

A Coast Guard station responded to a mayday call after a man was swept from his boat by a series of waves. The boater said he was taking on water and his friend was in the water near Chincoteague Inlet. Station Chincoteague launched a 23-foot rescue boat. Upon arriving, the operator of the 19-foot rescue boat had the flooding under control. The man who fell overboard was found lying on the beach, exhausted from swimming. The boat operator had thrown his friend a life jacket when he fell overboard; the life jacket was found on the beach several yards from where he was lying. The operator beached his boat and helped a Coast Guard boat crewmember get his friend from the beach back onto his boat, and was later transferred to the Coast Guard rescue boat. The rescue boat quickly transported the exhausted victim to a marina and transferred him to Chincoteague EMS. He was taken to Peninsula Regional Hospital in Salisbury, Md., for evaluation and was released. The two Chincoteague residents had been fishing when a series of large waves swamped their boat, knocking one boater overboard. The crew of Station Chincoteague credits the boaters’ marine radio on the 19-foot boat with the success of this rescue. The Coast Guard received the distress call and was able to get a rescue boat on scene very quickly. (Dec. 9)

Sailboat taking on water

Air Station Cherry Point, N.C.

Two people were rescued by a Marine Corps air rescue helicopter based at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, after it was dispatched by the Coast Guard to assist in the rescue of people from a sinking sailboat 10 miles southeast of Cape Lookout. The Coast Guard received a mayday radio call from a sailboat that was in distress and taking on water. The Coast Guard immediately launched a 47-foot motor lifeboat from Station Fort Macon and called the Marine Corps Air Station to check the availability of the helicopter. The helicopter arrived first and hoisted the survivors aboard. The Fort Macon motor lifeboat plucked the survivors’ pets and personal effects from the water. The helicopter took the survivors to Station Fort Macon where they were met by emergency medical services from Atlantic Beach. The Coast Guard credits the survivors with having the right equipment on board to help with their own survival and rescue. (Dec. 13)

Gas to light signal fire

Station Wachapreague, Va.

Coast Guard and Virginia Marine Police officers rescued two men who were stranded in the marshlands near Quinby. Coast Guard Station Wachapreague received a phone call reporting a boat had not returned to Quinby after a fishing trip that day. Station Wachapreague launched a 25-foot rescue boat to search the area where the boat operator said he would be fishing and suspected transit channels of the boat. Within 30 minutes the rescue effort was joined by a rescue boat from the Virginia Marine Police, and then a Coast Guard rescue helicopter from Elizabeth City, N.C., also launched to assist. Shortly after midnight the Virginia Marine Police rescue boat located the overdue boat and the two people aboard. They did not request medical attention and Virginia Marine Police towed the boat back to Quinby. The boat owner and operator said his engine became disabled on his way back to port. He anchored and launched numerous flares without any results. His anchor line then parted and the boat drifted into a marsh where he attempted to light fires with the gas from his fuel can. He was finally able to start a fire with the last of his fuel, which was seen by rescue units. Rescue crews were able to search in the correct areas due to the information from the reporting source. The boat owner did not have a radio or cellular phone on board to notify anyone of his situation. Having a radio on his vessel may have reduced the amount of time he had to wait before being rescued. The Coast Guard credits the float plan, the alert reporting source, and the resourcefulness of the boat operator in the success of this case. (Dec. 16)

EPIRB helps sailors in distress

Air Facility Charleston, S.C.

A Coast Guard helicopter rescue crew from Air Facility Charleston saved a father and son 50 miles offshore of Charleston. The 56-year-old father and his 24-year-old son were sailing when they activated their Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon after becoming disabled due to high seas and forecasted gale-force winds. The helicopter crew used the EPIRB signal to pinpoint the men’s position, and hoisted the father and son on board the helicopter with the help of the flight crew’s rescue swimmer. Both men were returned to Air Facility Charleston without any injuries. The Coast Guard reminds boaters to have the proper emergency equipment on board their boat in case of distress. The use an EPIRB helped the Coast Guard pinpoint the distressed boat’s location and reduced their response time. (Dec. 19)