Recent responses from Florida and the South
Unmanned boat turning circles
Air Station Miami, Fla.
The Coast Guard suspended its search for a missing boater. Coast Guard units searched about 2,000 square miles of ocean for a boater that was reported overdue. The 54-year-old man left Memory Rock, Bahamas, in a 38-foot Donzi traveling with a 35-foot and a 22-foot boat for Boynton Beach, Fla. The operators of the two other boats traveling with him contacted the Coast Guard when they arrived in Florida. Both reporting sources said the man was ahead of them when the 35-foot boat began experiencing engine problems. They attempted to reach the stranded boater by VHF radio, but were unsuccessful and lost sight of him. The two reported they altered their originally planned route due to the engine problems, and upon arriving at the Boca Yacht Club in Palm Beach, Fla., they learned their friend never arrived at the originallyplanned destination. Upon receiving the report, the Coast Guard immediately launched an HU-25 Falcon jet and an HH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Miami, and an HH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater, Fla. A helicopter from West Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office also assisted in the search. The crew of the Falcon jet found the missing man’s boat making circles in the water 38 miles east of St. Lucie, Fla. The Dolphin crew arrived on scene and lowered a rescue swimmer to search the vessel. No one was aboard the boat. A crew from Coast Guard Station Fort Pierce, Fla., was dispatched and was able to regain control of the circling boat. Coast Guard crews from Miami Beach, an HC-130 Hercules crew from Air Station Clearwater and a Station Lake Worth Inlet cutter were also dispatched to the search area. (Jan. 14)
Saved from sinking sailboat
Air Station Clearwater, Fla.
A man was rescued from his sinking and disabled sailboat about 260 miles east of Jacksonville, Fla., by Coast Guard aircrews from Clearwater, Fla. The 46-year-old man was on his way to the Bahamas when he lost his main mast, his engines became disabled and his 44-foot sailboat began taking on water. He called the Coast Guard with an urgent call for help. Coast Guard rescue coordinators from Miami received the call and tried to divert a nearby commercial vessel in the area to help. The vessel was unable to assist the stranded sailor because of the heavy seas. Rescue coordinators launched a C-130 airplane and a Jayhawk helicopter from Clearwater to locate and rescue the man from his sailboat. The C-130 crew spotted the sailboat and established communications with the captain. When the Jayhawk got to the scene, the C-130 directed the helicopter to the sailboat’s position. Against 50-mph winds and heavy seas, the crew of the Jayhawk hoisted the stranded man to safety from the foundering sailboat. He was reportedly in good condition after being transferred to waiting EMS in Melbourne, Fla. (Dec. 26)
Couple abandons 30-footer
Station Tybee Island, Ga.
Two people were rescued after their pleasure boat sank about two miles east of Paris Island Spit, S.C. The 68-year-old man and his 65-year-old wife were heading south to Florida on their 30-foot pleasure boat when they apparently received severe damage to their rudder and began rapidly taking on water. The man called the Coast Guard on his VHF radio, and he and his wife put on their life jackets. Rescue coordinators at Sector Charleston launched a rescue helicopter from Air Station Savannah, Ga., and two rescue boats from Station Tybee Island, Ga., to rescue the couple from their foundering boat. The rescue helicopter located the pair and directed the rescue boats to their position. The rescue boat crews pulled off the couple and attempted to save their boat from sinking. Unfortunately, the 30-foot pleasure boat was taking on water too quickly, and rescue boat crews couldn’t safely attempt to save it. The couple was taken to a local boat ramp in Beaufort, S.C., and were reportedly both in good condition. Members of the Beaufort Marine Rescue Squadron are helping the Canadian couple coordinate the salvage of their sunken boat. The sunken pleasure boat poses no significant risk to navigation or the environment. (Jan. 13)
Coast Guard rescues four
Station Sand Key, Fla.
A helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater rescued four people from the water after their 18-foot center-console boat sank 10 miles west of Hudson, Fla. The four boaters were hoisted and flown to Air Station Clearwater where they were met by EMS and taken to Largo Medical for treatment of hypothermia. The Coast Guard received the master’s mayday call, and immediately dispatched a helicopter and a rescue boat from Station Sand Key. Using a GPS and a working VHF radio, the master was able to provide his position to the Coast Guard before losing communications. He and his passengers also donned life jackets before his boat sank. Station Sand Key was on scene with the boat, attempting to re-right and dewater it. Weather conditions at the time of the rescue were 15- to 20-knot winds and 4-foot seas. (Jan. 17)
Float plan saves fisherman
Station Venice, La.
A Coast Guard helicopter rescue crew, with the help of a detailed float plan, located and airlifted an overdue mariner near MainPass, 20 miles east of Venice, La., after his boat ran aground. The 21-year-old man was crab fishing when he inadvertently ran aground. He was reported overdue by his father, who mentioned that the young man had missed an important meeting. Before leaving on his trip, the young man provided his father with a detailed verbal explanation of where he would be and when he expected to return. Coast Guard Sector New Orleans dispatched an HH-65B Dolphin helicopter rescue crew from Air Station New Orleans to search. The rescue crew located the missing man aboard his 21-foot skiff in a marshy area with a signal fire burning next to it. After successfully hoisting him into the helicopter cabin, the rescue crew proceeded to the Chevron heliport in Venice where members of Coast Guard Station Venice were waiting to reunite him with his family. (Jan. 5)
Air Station Clearwater, Fla.
Two women were rescued from their capsized 24-foot rowboat, 1,300 miles east of Puerto Rico. The Coast Guard Rescue Coordination Center (RCC), located in Portsmouth, coordinated the rescue of two women, ages 22 and 23. The rescue began when the RCC Portsmouth received an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon. The EPIRB was registered to a rowboat crew that was participating in the 2005 Atlantic Rowing Race, a trans-Atlantic rowboat race from La Gomera in the Canary Islands to Antigua in the Caribbean. After receiving the alert the Coast Guard launched a C-130 search and rescue airplane from Air Station Clearwater, Fla., and contacted a nearby 180-foot, two-masted sailboat. The two women were rescued by the sailboat and will ride the ship to its next port of call in Barbados. The rowboat is the second one in the race that the Coast Guard has assisted. (Jan. 16)
Search for sailor suspended
Station Ft. Myers Beach, Fla.
The Coast Guard and Lee County Sheriff’s Office suspended their search for a man in MatanzasPass after he and two of his friends capsized on a dingy while on the way to the man’s 28-foot sailboat. The water conditions were calm but cold. The two friends were rescued by a good Samaritan and in good condition with no need for medical treatment. After receiving the report, the Coast Guard launched two rescue boats from StationFt.MyersBeach and a Jayhawk helicopter from Air Station Clearwater. Lee County Sheriff’s Office also sent a helicopter, a rescue boat and a dive team to aid in the search. (Jan. 7)