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Mishap & Rescues – Mid-Atlantic

Recent responses from Florida to North Carolina

Coast Guard Training Center Yorktown (Va.) unveils its new response boat at the Boat Forces Center. The 45-footer will replace the 41-foot utility boat that has been in service for more than 30 years.

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Coast Guard rescues two near Cape Fear

Station Wrightsville Beach, N.C.

The Coast Guard rescued two people aboard a disabled sailboat 37 miles southeast of Cape Fear. The Coast Guard received a mayday call from a crewmember and received an EPIRB signal. Coast Guard rescue helicopter crews from Air Station Elizabeth City and Air Facility Charleston, S.C., arrived and established communication with the crewmembers of the sailboat, who reported they had lost power and had torn sails. A boat crew from Coast Guard Station Wrightsville Beach arrived and towed the sailboat up the Cape Fear River, then transferred the tow to a boat crew from Coast Guard Station Oak Island, who towed them to a local marina.

The triangulated position of the mayday call provided a search area that was about 40 miles different than the actual position, according to a watchstander at the 5th Coast Guard District command center, but the EPIRB provided more accurate information. Since the sailboat’s EPIRB had been properly registered and was up to date, rescuers were quickly able to determine specific information about the sailboat. A Coast Guard HH-65 Dolphin helicopter was launched from Air Facility Charleston to the GPS position. New direction-finding equipment recently installed on the helicopter allowed the crew to pick up the GPS and hone in on the signal. The Coast Guard reported they picked up the EPIRB signal at 25 miles, and at 11 miles were able to lock on the position. (Jan. 25)

Coast Guard searches for missing man

Jacksonville, Fla.

The Coast Guard was searching for a missing 69-year-old man near the St. Augustine inlet. The man departed from Vilano Beach on a 24-foot sailboat that was found entangled with another boat’s anchor line near the Comanche Cove Marina. The engine was still running and no one was found aboard the boat. The missing man was described as 5 feet, 8 inches tall, weighing 120 pounds. He has a full gray beard and dark hair. He was last seen wearing a white sweater-like jacket with rhinestones and a pair of gray sweatpants. The Coast Guard, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office were searching for the man by air and sea. Anyone with

information can contact the Coast Guard at (904) 564-7511. (Feb. 6)

Coast Guard ends search

Station Georgetown, S.C.

The Coast Guard ended its search for a missing person in the Waccamaw River after divers from the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources recovered the missing boater’s remains. Four adults, one child and one infant were in a 15-foot boat when it capsized near the shore of the Waccamaw River in the vicinity of Sandy Island, just north of Georgetown. One of the adults swam to shore and dialed 911 for assistance from a cell phone. Emergency dispatch relayed the phone call to the Coast Guard and other agencies to assist in the search. A good Samaritan rescued the infant from the water, and one of the women aboard and her 5-year old child also made it to shore safely. Two adults were recovered by search-and-rescue personnel during the search, but the remaining boater’s body was not found until later. The Coast Guard searched for 27 hours with helicopters from Air Station Savannah, Ga., and Air Facility Charleston, S.C., and boats from Station Georgetown. The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, Georgetown County Sheriff’s Office and the Midway Fire Department all participated in the search. (Feb. 19)

Man rescued from explosion off N.C.

Station Oak Island, N.C.

A man was rescued 20 minutes after making a mayday call reporting an explosion on board his 60-foot fishing boat 20 nautical miles from Masonboro Inlet. The captain of the boat expended all firefighting capabilities and abandoned ship into his life raft with a 406 MHz EPIRB. Coast Guard stations Wrightsville Beach and Oak Island launched rescue boat crews to the location received from the EPIRB. Coast Guard watchstanders also issued an urgent marine information broadcast to inform other mariners of his distress. The captain of another fishing boat responded to the broadcast and came alongside the life raft to pick up the captain. The Station Oak Island crew arrived and recovered the captain, who was taken to Station Wrightsville Beach and met with EMS for minor burns on his hands. He did not require any further medical assistance. Coast Guard watchstanders were transmitting a Safety Marine Information Broadcast to notify other mariners of the abandoned ship. (Feb. 8)

This article originally appeared in the Mid-Atlantic Home Waters Section of the May 2009 issue.