The Coast Guard, with the assistance of the Navy, saved four lives and responded to a total of five sailboats in distress off the Atlantic Coast Thursday and Friday.
Four of the five boats were participating in the Salty Dawg Rally, a sailboat rally from Hampton, Va., to the British Virgin Islands, the Bahamas, and other locations.
Coast Guard assets and personnel involved in Thursday and Friday’s search, rescue, and vessel assists were crews aboard two HC-130 Hercules airplanes and an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, N.C., the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Block Island, a 110-foot patrol boat homeported in Atlantic Beach, N.C., a 47-foot Motor Life Boat crew from Coast Guard Station Hatteras Inlet, N.C., and the command center personnel of the 5th Coast Guard District and Sector North Carolina.
In the first case, crewmembers aboard the 41-foot sailboat, Ahimsa, participating in the Salty Dawg Rally, sent out a distress signal via a satellite tracking device, stating that they were taking on water approximately 230 miles east of Virginia Beach and were in need of assistance.
Fifth District watchstanders launched crews aboard a Hercules airplane to search and a Jayhawk helicopter to perform the rescue. Watchstanders also contacted the Navy, which diverted the USS Vella Gulf to assist.
At approximately 11 p.m., the Jayhawk crew arrived at the Vella Gulf’s location and refueled aboard the ship. Proceeding from the Vella Gulf, the Jayhawk hoisted four people from the Ahimsa at approximately 1:30 a.m., and took the boaters back to Air Station Elizabeth City, where they declined medical treatment.
In a second case, crewmembers aboard the 38-foot sailboat Nyapa, participating in the Salty Dawg Rally, sent out a distress signal via a satellite tracking device stating that they had lost their mast and were taking on water approximately 275 miles east of Virginia Beach and were in need of assistance.
Fifth District watchstanders diverted the first Hercules crew from the Ahimsa case to search for the Nyapa, but they were unable to locate the boat. A HC-130 crew from the air station launched at approximately 10 p.m., and utilizing new information recieved from the coordinator of the Salty Dawg Rally, located the Nyapa and established communications.
A crewmember aboard the Nyapa stated they had four people aboard and confirmed they lost their mast, but no one was injured and they were continuing south via motors and no longer needed assistance.
In a third case, Fifth District watchstanders received an alert from an emergency position indicating radio beacon registered to the sailboat Aurora. The alert positioned the Aurora 230 miles east of Elizabeth City, N.C.
Both Hercules crews searched the area but were unable to locate the boat. The crew of a nearby sailboat, the Dreamreach, responded to the Coast Guard’s radio broadcasts inquiring the after Aurora, stating that they had been in contact with the vessel and that the Aurora was not in distress and were heading to Bermuda.
In a fourth case, crewmembers aboard the sailboat Brave Heart, also participating in the Salty Dawg Rally, located approximately 50 miles southeast of Ocracoke Inlet, contacted Sector North Carolina watchstanders, reporting a 67-year-old man aboard had a arm injury.
Watchstanders launched a Coast Guard Station Hatteras Inlet crew aboard a 47-foot Motor Life Boat to attempt a medevac. Once on scene, the MLB was unable to conduct the medevac due to adverse weather conditions.
The Coast Guard Cutter Block Island was dispatched to escort the Brave Heart into Beaufort, N.C., but was diverted to assist with another case with a disabled sailboat. Watchstanders established a communication schedule with the Brave Heart and planned to send a crew from Coast Guard Station Fort Macon to escort the Brave Heart in, but crewmembers aboard the Brave Heart stated they no longer needed Coast Guard assistance.
In a fifth case, crewmembers aboard the 54-foot sailboat, Zulu, another boat participating in the rally, located approximately 100 miles east of Oregon Inlet, contacted Sector North Carolina watchstanders via satellite phone, reporting that they were disabled and adrift.
The Cutter Block Island crew arrived on scene and Friday morning was preparing to set up a tow to bring the Zulu back to shore.
Click here to see the video from the U.S. Coast Guard.