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In distress, they did everything correctly

Coast Guard crews conduct more than 17,000 search-and-rescue missions each year in a wide range of conditions and situations. Reading reports of these missions, it’s clear that the crews often rescue people who are ill-prepared for the emergency. That was not the case with a rescue conducted this fall.

The 32-foot boat was taking on water when the two aboard contacted the Coast Guard.

About 3 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 13, the Coast Guard Sector Long Island Sound command center received a mayday call from a 32-foot powerboat over VHF channel 16. The boat was taking on water off Watch Hill, Rhode Island, and the two aboard required assistance.

The boaters said they were wearing life jackets and that the operator had a personal locator beacon. Watchstanders diverted a 45-foot response boat from Station New London to the scene, issued an urgent marine information broadcast and told the skipper to activate his PLB. An Air Station Cape Cod HC-144 aircraft also diverted to the scene. Twenty minutes later, the boaters were safely aboard the response boat.

“This is a great example of mariners being prepared prior to going out on the water,” says Chief Petty Officer Frank St. Pierre, the command duty officer at Sector Long Island Sound. “They remained calm, maintained constant communications with the Coast Guard on channel 16, donned their life jackets, activated their personal locator beacon and confirmed their position using emergency flares. The reliable gear on board the vessel and the outstanding response from Station New London and Air Station Cape Cod led to a successful rescue.”

The two were pulled from the water just 20 minutes after placing the mayday call.

The boaters were transported to Noank Shipyard in Groton, Connecticut, where emergency medical services were waiting to take them to Pequot Hospital in Groton. No injuries were reported.

This article originally appeared in the January 2016 issue.