Britt Taylor, 52, is believed to have fallen overboard 170 miles east of the Bahamas. Photo courtesy of Dick Enersen.

Search Called Off for Woman Lost at Sea Sailing to Annapolis

The Coast Guard has suspended its search for a 52-year-old sailor who reportedly fellow overboard some 170 miles off Bermuda, on her way to Annapolis.

The Coast Guard launched a search Wednesday morning after receiving an alert from an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) on sailing vessel Small World IV, about 170 miles east of Eleuthera, Bahamas.

According to Boatwatch.org, an international search assistance organization for lost and overdue boaters, the captain of the 42-foot sailboat, Tony Ward, activated his EPIRB when he woke up for his watch at 2:30 a.m. to find his mate, Britt Taylor, missing. Boat Watch says Taylor disappeared sometime after 9:30 p.m. Tuesday. She was believed to be wearing a “PFD Type 5 with an attached Ocean Signal personal automatic AIS beacon.”

According to Ocean Signal’s website , this device is meant to activate the DSC alarm on your vessel’s VHF, alerting your crew automatically when your life jacket inflates and activating an emergency strobe light for visibility. It’s not clear whether the device was working in this incident.

An Emergency BOLO was issued, urging all mariners to keep a sharp lookout when traveling in the area and report all sightings. The Coast Guard searched Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday before making the decision to suspend their search efforts Saturday. USCG searched “more than 63 hours, covering 18,140 square miles, nearly the size of Costa Rica.”

Britt Taylor (bottom row, second from right) competed in the 2019 12m World Championship in Newport with skipper Dick Enersen (top row, fourth from left). Photo courtesy of Dick Enersen.

Says Glenn Tuttle of Boat Watch, “The tragedy of this event is she and her companion are very, very experienced offshore sailors. They had one of the best Man Overboard devices on the market today, designed to prevent this exact scenario.

Taylor competed in the 2019 12-Metre World Championships in Newport, R.I. aboard Defender, whose campaign raised money for Warrior Sailing. Skipper and former America’s Cup sailor Dick Enersen tells Bay Bulletin of Taylor’s experience level, “She had sailed on 12s before, and, I think, since. I’m not sure when she started sailing, but she was very intense, and learned fast.”

-Meg Walburn Viviano