rescued two people after the 43-foot recreational boat they were aboard
sank 45 miles east of Oregon Inlet on Saturday, Aug. 20.
Coast Guard Sector North Carolina received a call at approximately 1
p.m. from a crew member aboard the Reel Escape, from Glen Allen, Va.,
stating that they were taking on water and were in need of assistance.
from Cape Hatteras when we hit a submerged object,” said Rob Loftus,
owner and operator of the Reel Escape, which runs charters out of
Hatteras Landing Marina. “We went below deck to see that the engine
compartment was rapidly filling up with water.”
that they were flooding and that the onboard pumps were not keeping up.
“We went to
and made the distress call on 16,” said Loftus. “No one came back at
first. I made a second call and when the Coast Guard responded, we
passed them our GPS position.”
dropped, but watchstanders began receiving an emergency position
indicating radio beacon transmission near the reported location.
handheld GPS, VHF radio, and personal EPIRB,” said Loftus. “I had a
flare gun crash kit, which included parachute flares, pencil flares,
and a few cans of smoke.”
p.m., an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew form Coast Guard Air Station
Elizabeth City, N.C., was launched to search for the boaters.
communication with the Coast Guard, the boaters said they abandoned
ship into a life raft.
less than 15
minutes after we hit the object that we knew we were going to abandon
the ship,” said Loftus.
after boarding the life raft, they kept making call outs on their
handheld radio using channels 16 and 80, the commonly used fishing
channel in that area.
like we were
in the raft much longer than I’m sure it actually was,” said Robert
Smith, the second person aboard the Reel Escape. “I remember I kept
thinking - I hope that they heard us. For a while we were talking about
how long it was going to take them to reach us by boat.”
arrived on scene at approximately 2:30 p.m.
“I saw them
said Smith. “They came up kind of behind us, and I just yelled out to
‘Get the flares!’”
for us,” said Loftus. “The prop wash was so strong we joked that they
were going to push us back to shore.”
off a few
hundred yards from us, and we didn’t know what they were doing,” said
Smith. “We thought maybe there was a boat just over the horizon we
couldn’t see that they were sending our way. But then I saw a guy
sitting in the door with his fins on, and said they’re sending us a
came up to us and asked if we were okay, then took us one at a time
over to the basket to get hoisted to the helicopter,” said Loftus.
our jobs very easy,” said Lt.j.g. Kristen Jaekel, a watchstander with
Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City’s Command Center. “They quickly
identified they were in trouble and still managed to put out a mayday
call in the ISPI format.
situation, position, and intentions. In the heat of the
they still remembered to do those things, as well as decide to abandon
ship in their inflatable raft and grab their EPRIB. It is
important for survivors to remain calm, make appropriate decisions and
grab the things that will help save their lives while being familiar
with when and how to use them. These two gentlemen were very
smart and did everything right, which is why they are alive and well at
preparedness with crew members from Air Station Elizabeth City, Loftus
said that there are several things he is sure to do before getting
make a plan
and tell someone what I’m doing and where I’m going,” he said. I told
my wife when I left that I should be at Rudee Inlet around 6.”
there’s the personal EPIRB,” said Loftus. “We keep it right next to the
radio. If something starts to go wrong, the first place you go is the
radio. If it gets worse, you don’t have to think about where the EPIRB
is. I have a personal EPIRB that I can keep with me.”
transported to Air Station Elizabeth City.
about my wife getting the phone call, because the EPIRB is registered
with my home phone number,” said Loftus. “The first thing I did was
call my wife to tell her I was okay. She answered the phone and had
more information than I did. The Coast Guard had called her and told
her that we had been rescued, and I can’t thank them all enough for