A nautical rescue 60 miles off North Carolina’s Cape Lookout serves as another reminder of the importance of being prepared before you leave the dock.
On Dec. 15 the Coast Guard hoisted a man from the Atlantic after his sailboat became disabled. Among several technical problems, the solo sailor of the 40-foot Sassafras had a faulty engine and VHF radio.
Although the uninjured sailor was retrieved safely, he abandoned his boat.
At 4:30 a.m., watchstanders at Sector North Carolina received a call from the sailor aboard Sassafras. He said he had lost his sea anchor and needed assistance. The Coast Guard was able to hear him over the VHF radio, but the sailor was apparently unable to hear the Coast Guard’s responses.
A C-130 Hercules aircraft crew launched from Air Station Elizabeth City and tried unsuccessfully to pass a radio to the sailor. An MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew also launched from Elizabeth City and lowered a rescue swimmer to the water near the disabled sailboat.
The swimmer climbed aboard and learned that the sailor also was having trouble with the boat’s engines, among other technical problems. The sailor decided to leave the boat, and he and the rescue swimmer entered the water and were hoisted to the helicopter about 11:30 a.m.
The sailor was taken to Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point in good condition.
“While it is unfortunate the Coast Guard was not able to salvage the sailboat, we’re glad to have helped this man escape a dangerous situation today,” said Lt. Jon Lee, aircraft commander aboard the Jayhawk helicopter for the case. “Given his limited communications and other complications aboard the boat, he made a good choice to not stay out there alone.”