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Mishaps & Rescues – Mid-Atlantic

Recent responses from the Mid-Atlantic

FULL-SERVE FUEL REMOVAL – Industrial Marine Services employees remove diesel fuel form the 55-foot catamaran Makayla and Noah on the Pea Island Wildlife Refuge near Oregon Inlet, N.C. The catamaran drifted to the beach from anchor in late March after its operator was rescued by the Coast Guard. More than 300 gallons of diesel were to be removed.

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TANKER RESCUE - Two Italian yachtsmen were recently rescued in the Southern Ocean by the German-operated tanker Hellespont Trooper. The pair’s 34-foot yacht, Onitron, was dismasted April 8 about 3,500 miles west of the Southern tip of South America. Despite strong winds and a heavy swell, the vessel’s crew used a life raft to transfer the two men from the yacht to the tanker. The Hellespont Trooper was en route from New Zealand to Rivadavia, Argentina, but planned to divert to a Chilean port to drop off the pair.

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Two rescued in Pocomoke River

Station Crisfield, Md.

The Coast Guard rescued two people after they reportedly ran aground near William’s Point in the Pocomoke River. One of the men called Coast Guard Sector Baltimore watchstanders by cell phone from a 31-foot pleasure boat, reporting he had run aground and was taking on water. The men were able to control the amount of water entering the boat by using rags to plug the hole. A 41-foot utility boat crew from Coast Guard Station Crisfield arrived and towed the boat and men back to Station Crisfield. (Feb. 24)

Tow in rough seas

Coast Guard Sector North Carolina

The crew of Coast Guard Cutter Block Island towed a disabled sailboat that was adrift in rough seas with three people aboard, 46 miles south of Beaufort Inlet, N.C. Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector North Carolina received a call on VHF channel 16 from the 44-foot sailboat stating they were out of fuel and adrift with torn sails. The weather conditions were 8- to 12-foot seas with 25-knot winds. The cutter was diverted to assist, and took the sailboat in tow. SeaTow arrived and took over towing the disabled sailboat to the Beaufort docks. (March 18)

Coast Guard will help when asked

RCC Portsmouth, Va.

Recent news reports that the U.S. Coast Guard declined to help a British couple on a sailboat that had drifted for 40 days in the Atlantic Ocean during January and February are incorrect.

Coast Atlantic Area records indicate that, on Jan. 15, the couple contacted the Rescue Coordination Center in Falmouth, U.K., to report their rudder was not operating properly, but that it was not an emergency. The couple just wanted to know their options and the weather forecast.

On Jan. 19, RCC Falmouth notified the U.S. Coast Guard’s RCC in Portsmouth, Va., of the sailboat’s status. From Jan. 19 to Feb. 18, the couple communicated with a ham radio operator in Canada who consistently passed the sailboat’s status to the U.S. Coast Guard. During this period, the couple never asked to be rescued, the Coast Guard says. The couple contacted RCC Bermuda Feb. 15 and requested help. At that time, the sailboat was estimated to be about 235 nautical miles south-southeast of Bermuda. RCC Bermuda informed the couple that they did not have anyone available to come out that far, but that there was a salvage boat available to assist. The couple declined that assistance because of the cost.

On Feb. 18, the ham radio operator called the U.S. Coast Guard in Portsmouth, Va., and said the couple was now running out of food and water. In addition, they were exhausted and wanted to abandon their sailboat. The U.S. Coast Guard then used the Automated Merchant Vessel Reporting program to divert the oil tanker Indian Point to pick them up. The Coast Guard says it will always make all possible attempts to assist distressed mariners. (Feb. 24)

Rogue wave disables catamaran

Station Oregon Inlet, N.C.

A rescue boat crew from Coast Guard Station Oregon Inlet towed a disabled catamaran to safety after it was hit by a rogue wave near Oregon Inlet, N.C. Dare County 911 contacted Coast Guard Sector North Carolina, stating it received a call from the owner of a disabled 55-foot catamaran requesting assistance. The owner called the Coast Guard soon after, stating he had been hit by a rogue wave that disabled his boat. Station Oregon Inlet launched a 47-foot rescue boat to assist. The crew of the rescue boat arrived, towed the boat to safe water where it could anchor, and transported the owner to the station. The catamaran was anchored for the night and the owner was expected to return with commercial salvage to recover the boat. (March 18)

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