June 2008

Rental Emergency Beacon Helps Save Four Lives Aboard Sinking Sailboat

Charter Sailboat Struck Unknown Object 200 Miles East of Brunswick, Ga.

The owner and captain of a 48-foot charter sailboat credits a rented Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB), which had been acquired through the BoatUS Foundation EPIRB Rental Program, for helping to save four lives when the boat stuck a submerged object early on the morning of May 13, about 200 miles east of Brunswick, Ga. The charter sailboat S/V Wolf had been in transit to its summer charter base in Bayshore, N.J.

The collision with the unknown object led to significant damage of Wolf, allowing it to take on water. Emergency efforts to stem the flow failed, and bilge pumps could not keep up with the volume of water entering, leading Capt. Paul Doughty to activate the beacon at approximately 5 a.m.

Fifteen minutes later, Capt. Doughty called a May Day on a satellite phone to the USCG rescue center, which notified Doughty and his crew of three aboard Wolf that the EPIRB signal had already been identified and that the USCG Cutter Reliance had been directed to the foundering sailboat's location. As luck would have it, Reliance was just 6 miles from Wolf's location.

Upon arrival at the stricken charter boat, Reliance's crew dropped a Rescue Assistance Vessel over the side and safely removed all four mariners. As the seas were nearly 10-feet, it was determined to be too dangerous to make further salvage attempts.

With its interior now full of water and only its cabin top remaining above the waves, the sailboat was left to the mercy of the depths.
"It was amazing," says Capt. Doughty, who has rented BoatUS EPIRBs on several previous occasions. The $750 EPIRBs can be rented from the Foundation for as little as $40 a week.

"Shortly after I got off the satellite phone, the cutter was there. The EPIRB was instrumental in saving our lives. It just goes to show how important planning for this very thing is," he added.

The BoatUS Foundation EPIRB Rental Program is intended to fill the short-term safety need for occasional offshore passages and is funded by the voluntary contributions of 650,000 BoatUS members. For more information, call (888) 663-7472 or visit http://www.BoatUS.com/foundation/epirb