Three sailors are safe after being rescued 395 miles off Virginia Beach in the center of Tropical Storm Alex.
The boaters aboard sailing vessel Faule Haut activated their Electronic Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) Monday night, hundreds of miles southeast of the coast. According to the Coast Guard, the crew didn’t answer phone calls.
The Coast Guard sent a Hercules aircraft crew and a helicopter. When the Hercules first arrived on scene, they found Faule Haut with a broken main mast. The crew was on the deck, signaling with flashlights. They were able to get in touch by radio.
With the rescue site so far offshore, the Coast Guard coordinated with a U.S. Navy vessel to land the MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter for refueling halfway to the scene. It wound up being a 460-mile journey out to the sailboat, the Coast Guard said.
The Aegean Harmony, a Greek oil tanker, also responded to help.
Conditions were treacherous. The location of the EPIRB indicated Faule Haut was in the center of Tropical Storm Alex as it moved north toward Bermuda. USCG reports there were 10-12 foot seas with 40 mile per hour winds
Coast Guard video shows the churning waters and extreme rescue conditions. Watch below:
The helicopter crew safely hoisted the stranded boaters and returned them safely ashore. None of them was injured.
Sailing vessel Faule Haut is a 39-foot Beneteau Oceanis built in 2003, according to its operators’ blog. It has been undertaking a circumnavigation and occasionally hosts guests. The blog’s “Cruising Plan” section mentions an Atlantic crossing they’d planned to begin May 27 from Florida. “Faule Haut is expected to be in her home port Vinaròs [on Spain’s east coast] on July 28,” the blog notes.
While the scenario was scary and the rescue was complicated, the Coast Guard praised the sailors for taking the right action in an emergency.
“The Coast Guard was able to quickly locate these stranded mariners because they activated the on board EPIRB to signal that they were in distress,” said Lt. Andrew Grady, Fifth District Command Center Command Duty Officer. “As we enter the busy boating season, the Coast Guard would like to remind the boating public on the importance of having safety gear and emergency signaling devices on board in case of distress.”
-Meg Walburn Viviano