Coast Guard and U.S. Virgin Islands authorities combine efforts to rescue fisherman off of Saint John, U.S. Virgin Islands

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico –  Coast Guard rescue crews combined efforts with U.S. Virgin Islands authorities to rescue a fisherman Thursday night disabled and adrift, approximately two nautical miles south of Fish Bay, Saint John, U.S. Virgin Islands.

Rescued was a 56-year-old man aboard a 13-foot Boston Whaler, who reportedly went out on a fishing trip Thursday morning and afterwards began experiencing engine problems onboard.

“This is a great case of Coast Guard and our partners from the National Park Service and Saint John Fire & Rescue coordinating and combining efforts to save a life,” said Cmdr. James Sutton, Sector San Juan chief of response.

Coast Guard watchstanders in Sector San Juan received a report Thursday night of an overdue fisherman.  The reporting source later notified that her husband was able to contact her and let her know he was having engine problems and drifting south of Saint John, U.S. Virgin Islands.

Coast Guard rescue crews aboard a Boat Forces Saint Thomas 25-foot response boat and a Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Air Station Borinquen, Aguadilla, Puerto Rico located the fisherman onboard his vessel disabled and adrift with no running lights.  The crew of the Coast Guard response boat initially took the distressed vessel in tow.

U.S. Virgin Islands National Park Services and Saint John Fire & Rescue boat crews also involved in the search were vectored by the Coast Guard helicopter crew to the position of the distress.  The National Park Service boat crew took over the tow of the distressed vessel and safely towed the vessel and the fisherman to Cruz Bay in Saint John, U.S. Virgin Islands.

Boating and Water Safety Tips:

  • Check the weather before casting off and monitor the weather by radio continuously.
  • It is recommended that everyone always wear a life jacket when in the water, but at a minimum have a properly fitting life jacket for every person on board and ensure that they are quickly accessible.  Often, when trouble happens, it happens fast.
  • Know the boat you are on, including the location and operation of all safety gear, including a VHF-marine radio.  This is especially true if renting or borrowing a boat that you may not be familiar with.
  • Do not rely on cell phones as a primary means of distress communication.  Coverage is unreliable and communications are only point-to-point, limiting the chances of a Good Samaritan coming to your aid and if you get cut-off the call may not be reestablished.  Radio is your best bet to communicate trouble and get help to you quickly.
  • A float plan should be prepared and shared with friends and family. That will give them an idea of where you are going and when you will return home. The float plan has all pertinent information about your boat, increasing your chances of being rescued. You can download a float plan at:  http://www.floatplancentral.org/ and http://www.floatplancentral.org/download/USCGFloatPlan.pdf.
  • You can also contact the Coast Guard Auxiliary for a free vessel safety check log on to www.vesselsafetycheck.org and click on “I Want a VSC” to find a Vessel Examiner near you.
  • Taking a safe boating class arms you with valuable information.

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