Thursday, May 5, 2005

Rescue at Sea

I woke up to rain today. A Nor’ Easter was coming through and the forecast was for rain all day here.

A rainy day for a Dock Master can be miserable and boring or exciting and busy. In my profession, you hope for the boring because the other means there is a crisis going on. You know, little things like boats sinking, or docks floating away. Yeah, little things!

I get to work and put on my full rain suit and walk the docks in the pouring rain. Everything normal… it’s going to be a boring day. WRONG!

I get back to the dock shack and I hear a Dock Master at a marina near here talking on the VHF radio with the Coast Guard and a boat out at sea. The Dock Master is relaying communications between the two. The boat can’t hear the Coast Guard, but can pick up the signal from the other marina, so they are helping by relaying messages back and forth.

It turns out that the boat in trouble can’t hear either the marina or the Coast Guard and a boat near them is sending their messages to the Dock Master who is passing them on to the Coast Guard.

The boat is in trouble. The seas are really rough and there are three people on board. The Captain, 64 years old, has suffered a back injury in the rough conditions and needs help. The name of the boat is the "Carol Lee" and the messages are being relayed by the "Crystal Sea."

The "Carol Lee" is a thirty- five-foot sailboat. There are three persons aboard. The Captain is out of commission with his back injuries and the other two passengers, ages 62 and 63, are very, very seasick.

I know all the Coast Guard radio frequencies, so I get out all my radios and switch them to the different channels and sit back to listen in.

The "Crystal Lee" is a 130’ motor yacht. She can’t get close enough to the sailboat to help because the rough seas would slam the boats together and cause even more problems. Her captain continues to relay messages until the "Carol Lee" is finally heard by the marina and can signal without the go between.

The Coast Guard now picks up an EPIRB signal from the area and immediately launches a rescue helicopter. EPIRB stands for: Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon. No boat should ever go offshore without one of these gadgets aboard.

After a while, it is becoming clear to the Coast Guard that the EPIRB is not coming from any of the boats mentioned above. The ‘Crystal Lee" is out of the area now and out of the picture. A NOAA research vessel named "Nancy Foster" is nearby and takes up radio communications for the Coast Guard relaying messages back and forth. The other Dock Master is also out of the picture and, I’ll bet, listening in just like me.

The helicopter finds no other vessels in the area, abandons the search for the EPIRB, and heads for the "Carol Lee." Once on scene, the pilot reports the seas are 8 to 12 feet high and the pitch and roll of the sailboat is too great to safely drop the EMT swimmer to board the sailboat.

The plan now is for the "Nancy Foster" to launch her small boat and send a NOAA EMT over to the sailboat, but the "Nancy Foster" is five miles away. Suddenly the helicopter pilot radios that his EMT is onboard and they are returning to base for fuel. They had successfully dropped the EMT to the sailboat!

The Coast Guard has a forty-one footer speeding to the scene. The plan is for the 41Ft. boat to take the "Carol Lee" in tow and head for the nearest calm water. That would be St. Catherine’s Sound on the Georgia Coast. This situation is being handled jointly by Coast Guard Station Charleston, (South Carolina), and Coast Guard Station Tybee, (Savannah, Georgia).

Once they reach the calmer waters of the Sound they plan on either airlifting the Captain off the boat, or, towing the boat to a dock to get the Captain off. Because of the nature of the back injury, they decide to tow to a dock.

What an admirable display of professionalism was shown by everyone involved with this rescue from the Dock Master, to the boats that relayed information, to the coordination of effort by the two Coast Guard Stations, to the courage and bravery of the EMT dropped to administer aid to the injured Captain. I love it when a plan comes together!

Boring day? Not today!

Post Script

After the Coast Guard Helicopter refueled, it returned to the area and continued to search for the EPIRB. I want these guys on duty if I ever get into trouble out there!

46 comments:

joolsinwa said...

Thank goodness we have such skilled people  when there is distress on the seas!
~ Julie~ http://journals.aol.com/joolsinwa/randommusingsofmymind

judithheartsong said...

oh, this was a harrowing day. My X always wanted us to rent a boat and take it our from Port Canaveral.... he has no boating experience and I said no way. Weather blows up way to quickly off the Florida coast. Glad for this happy ending. judi

stupidsheetguy said...

THAT was a great story. Better than I find in magazines or on TV, because it gave us the birds-eye view of the saga. Awesome work by everyone involved.

And I'm glad it wasn't Woody. Phew!

Jimmy

bvaneps834 said...

So glad this turned out so well! It is great when people can work together like this. Just think what the world would be like if more  did!

coy1234787 said...

I love happy endings!
  *** Coy ***


emfeasel said...

Exciting day for sure....happy outcome too...it doesn't get much better..

E

chatzeekay said...

Hats off to you great entry and thats exciteiment reading it,,, wow sounds wacky glad all is alright,,,,,

sieblonde said...

Listening to a rescue story beats sinking boats or boats floating away, any day!  

rivercitygirl1 said...

Wow!!  Not boring at all.  Those guys are good, high fives all around.  Just think, hurricane season is just around the corner.
Tami

carly0042 said...

You really are a great story teller. I felt like I was right there.

fchgrl said...

Your "Cat Tent" made me laugh and now this rescue at sea gave me an adrenaline rush! You are a great story teller..thank you for sharing this talent!

yakima127 said...

Way to go, everyone!  JAE

yakima127 said...

Way to go, everyone!  JAE

sistercdr said...

Oh man, what a great story.

nyuknyukpik2 said...

wow
great story!!!!
I love learning all about boats and water from reading your journals--sadly enough I've never even been sailing.

fitzzer said...

Wow - that's pretty exciting! Glad everyone is OK. ~ Lori

babyshark28 said...

WOW. that's amazing!
when I am going through my hum drum day, and I feel so bored and disgruntled. I have to remember the amazing things and miracles that are going on elsewhere in the world that are helping other people.
great stuff, great pics.
thanks for sharing and dropping into my journal. :)

samnsmile5 said...

Good story with a great outcome.  I admire all Emergency personnel and those that are involved in taking risks for those in need of help.  When the adrenalin starts to flow and people are thinking and reacting to the situation....that amazes me.  KUDOS!!!
Michele
http://journals.aol.com/SamNsmile5/LettingItAllSinkIn

csandhollow said...

Any news on the signal?

alphawoman1 said...

Wow!  

bookncoffee said...

Wow....I suppose this will be on storm stories before long too.  This was very interesting.  Glad everything worked out in this case.  Have a great weekend.  I sure do enjoy the journal.
Sonya

olddog299 said...

I agree with you - that's a fine mess of Coasties you have there. I'd be proud to serve with them any day.

wil

ondinemonet said...

Hi Sam :)

Amazing story and amazing photos!

Always, Carly :)

sonensmilinmon said...

Wow, what a story and amazing pictures.  

Monica
http://journals.aol.com/photographybymon/Mamarazzi/
http://journals.aol.com/sonensmilinmon/SmilinMonsAdventures/

blondepennierae said...

What an exciting story on an expected boring day.  Beautifully done.  Pennie

auburndawn said...

What a neat story!   How wonderfu that people work together to accomplish things ...  I am so big into team work!  I was talking to a friend of mine last night who lives on his boat in South Carolina.  He was telling me things about the water, and his boat...  terminology and things that happen, and I thought about you and your journal.  I live out here in the desert, and I love my mountains, wide plains, and all the flora and fauna within them.  But reading your journal is like being back at the waterside.  Smelling the salt in the air, feeling the dock beneath my feet (I love fishing off a dock...yupyupyup!) and the way the sky looks against the ocean on a horizon.  Nothing else like it.  :)
Thanks for the story!  Oh, and thanks for the great comment in my journal!
~Dawn

cherokeedream40 said...

((((Osiyo Sam))))) great story........and so much excitement on a boring day lol........I love the pictures always thanks for sharing yourself with us all dohiya my friend

.· ´¨¨)) -:¦:-
¸.·´ .·´¨¨))
((¸¸.·´ ..·´ -:¦:-Tanena-:¦:-
-:¦:- ((¸¸.·´*

mcjerseygiri said...

Wow! This sounds so exciting. I live about 25 miles from the Atlantic Ocean and when a Nor Easter hits there, my yard needs to be secured. I can't imagine being out on the sea during one! Did I tell  you my Dad was in the Navy for 22 yrs? We heard many exciting stories! NELLE

maidothemist said...

omg! Did they find the EPIRB signal??

jcgeorgiapeach said...

I loved your narration of this story.  Fabulous telling and a wonderful outcome!  ~Peachy

cneinhorn said...

we love the coast guard here!

~ www.jerseygirljournal.com

ryanagi said...

I'm left wondering about the other EPIRB too...was another boat in trouble? I hope the Coast Guard was able to find them too, if so.  Scary stuff!

cw2smom said...

Wow!  What an exciting story!  Thanks for sharing your day!  Wishing all of them well, Lisa

bvaneps834 said...

what an exciting job!!

ldebbiedeb7 said...

WHAT A GREAT STORY! THANKS FOR SHARING IT.........YOU HAVE  WONDERFUL WRITTING SKILLS......D

karensull12 said...

Wow.  Amazing story.  My life is so boring!!!!

rap4143 said...

I'm enjoying your blog, learning about your job!!!! Imagine enjoying your job!!!!

anmyatt said...

WOW!  That's quite a rescue story!  My hubby has a marine related career.  He's an engineer on a 5600 HP towboat that runs mainly the lower Mississippi.  You might see a few of those over your way.  Thanks for visiting my journal!  =)  ~Nikki

ondinemonet said...

Hi Sam :)

Just dropping by to see if all is ok? Looking forward to your next entry. :)

Always, Carly :)

maidothemist said...

There was a couple of gentleman on the Today show telling their story a week ago. Could it be....?

ltcjan said...

Having been in the position of being rescued by dedicated and committed people a couple of times, I can well appreciate your appreciation of the professionalism of all.  I am so glad they were there when we needed them!!
Comment from ltcjan - 5/15/05 4:40 PM

justaname4me2 said...

What a story! I think I got seasick just reading it! Your right though, if I ever found myself in such a situation, I would want exactly those type of people saving me.
Rebecca

jevanslink said...

Whew.  Mrs. L

lurkynat said...

pretty exciting

coy1234787 said...

Just checking in to see if I've missed anything. Good
idea to only post when you you have the time and
energy. Hope all is well.
                   *** Coy ***

allibrad1293 said...

I loved that story and mainly because i grew up on a 41ft. poweryacht, a carver! i loved it then we got the 56fter! My best friend is a coast gaurd and if i could i would give you his name! I love the seas and that is just what happens in the rough waters! Have a great day and i will be checking in for some more stories! Bye
-Alli