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Unusual rescue for mariners in distress

A volunteer firefighter and the former mayor of Cape May, N.J., called for help last Wednesday night after he heard a distress call on his scanner.

The Press of Atlantic City reports that Bob Elwell said he heard a woman screaming in the background, which convinced him the call was no hoax. A 37-foot sailing vessel named Wildcat had reportedly beached within walking distance of Elwell's home. The couple aboard said they were sailing from Maryland to Staten Island, N.Y.

By the time the Coast Guard arrived on the scene, the local fire department had brought the two safely ashore after responding to a phone call from Elwell, who said he was first on the scene.

Though the couple was unhurt and their yacht salvaged, Elwell wondered why he and his fire crew beat the Coast Guard to the rescue. The Coast Guard said it had launched a rescue boat, but aborted the attempt when it learned the fire department was on the scene.

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