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Mishaps and Rescues Mid-Atlantic October 2010

Anglers adrift without fuel

Atlantic City, N.J.

The Coast Guard rescued four people after the 22-foot fishing boat they were aboard ran out of gas 70 miles east of Cape May, N.J. The Coast Guard received a call at approximately 1:05 p.m. from the spouse of one of the passengers aboard, stating her husband was to be home at 3.p.m. and he had not yet returned. His truck and trailer were still parked at the boat ramp from where he left.

A HH-65 helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Atlantic City, N.J., an HC-130J aircraft crew from Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, N.C., and the crew of the Coast Guard cutter Mako arrived on the scene and continued to search for the boaters throughout the night.

At approximately 10:20 p.m. the HC-130J crew spotted the vessel through their multimode radar, which is an advanced operational radar system. After they picked up the initial target with the system, they were able to arrive at the location where the cream-colored vessel was spotted with four people aboard. The crew of the Mako was diverted to the area, launched their small boat and rescued all four people. A crew from Coast Guard Station Cape May moored the vessel at a nearby boat ramp.

It was also reported the 22-foot vessel did not have an EPIRB and did not have a VHF radio aboard or a working cell phone.

"We were fortunate to find them," says Capt. Todd Gatlin, captain of the port for Coast Guard Sector Delaware Bay in Philadelphia. "We received conflicting information on when they departed, where they might fish, when they were scheduled to return and even how many people were on board the boat. In fact, our initial searches, based off earlier information about where they had planned on going, was north of where the boat was eventually found. We shifted our search efforts and eventually found them only after talking to one of their friends who had previously fished with them. A float plan detailing who was on board and where they planned to go, with a schedule, would have helped tremendously. Additionally, an EPIRB, which could have been activated once they ran into trouble, would have allowed us to go right to them." (July 31)

This article originally appeared in the October 2010 issue.