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Dressed for rescue

SEPT. 14 — Siebelt Gerdes, 56, of Isle of Palms, S.C., was lucky — but it was his quick thinking and foresight that helped bring him home from a mishap on the water.

Gerdes was sailing with a friend on his catamaran Sept. 7 when he fell off, according to a Coast Guard press release. His friend tried to turn the boat around to go back and rescue him, but couldn’t get the vessel back to Gerdes. After beaching the cat, the friend called 911.

Meanwhile Gerdes, in his life jacket, drifted about a mile off the southernmost point from the Isle of Palms. Area 911 dispatchers contacted the Coast Guard at Sector Charleston, and rescue boat and air crews were dispatched.

The boat crew spotted Gerdes as he was waving his T-shirt in the air, bobbing up and down in the sea.

“The fact Mr.Gerdes was wearing a life jacket and was creative enough to use his shirt as a signaling device probably saved his life,” said Petty Officer Eric Brown in the release. “I don’t know if we would have spotted him as quickly as we did if he hadn’t done everything right.”

Brown was one of the officers in the rescue boat that pulled Gerdes out of the sea. Gerdes was transported to Charleston Harbor Marina in good condition. The Isle of Palms Fire Department, Charleston County Sheriff’s Office, and South Carolina department of natural resources also assisted in the search for Gerdes, according to the release.

In its release, the Coast Guard reminds all boaters that life jackets should be worn whenever they are on the water since they greatly increase a person’s chance of rescue if an emergency situation occurs.

— Elizabeth Ellis