Coast Guard crews save Canadian sailors from winter storm

Coast Guard District 1 NewsBOSTON — Two Canadian sailors are safe after receiving report of the upcoming dangerous winter storm from a U.S. Coast Guard aircrew and getting a tow to Provincetown, Mass., from a Coast Guard boatcrew, Sunday.

Sailors aboard the 37-foot Rodeo were about 150 miles east of Provincetown, Mass., Friday, when an HU-25 Falcon jet crew from Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod was performing offshore storm track weather warnings and was contacted by the sailors.

“They called us just before we made our last broadcast and headed back to Cape Cod,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Spencer Vince, a crewman aboard the Falcon who was making the broadcasts. “They didn’t seem to know there was a storm coming so we told them what the scenario was. They took the warning seriously.”

The sailors were on their way from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Long Island, N.Y., but headed toward Cape Cod, Mass., after hearing the Coast Guard’s weather warning.

At 12:37 a.m., Sunday the sailors called the Coast Guard again reporting their engine was failing and they would need a tow into port. The engine did fail, leaving the sailors in 12 to 15-foot seas with occasional 20-foot swells and no power more than seven miles south of Provincetown Harbor.

An urgent marine broadcast was issued, but due to severe weather conditions, commercial towboat companies were unable to tow the Rodeo.

A 47-foot Motor Lifeboat crew from Coast Guard Station Provincetown was dispatched to tow the Rodeo into port and arrived on scene around 1:35 a.m.

In addition to the 12 to 15-foot seas, the crews also faced 40 to 50-knot winds that gusted up to 60 knots with only 20 feet of visibility.

At around 5:13 a.m., the crews were in Provincetown Harbor and tried to anchor the sailboat and remove the two people aboard. However, the anchor wasn’t holding and with the weather, it was too dangerous to remove the sailors from the Rodeo.

The station crew once again took the sailboat in tow, but the towline parted. After putting the sailboat into a stern tow again, the towline then came off the bow of the sailing vessel. Each time the tow was broken, the Rodeo drifted further and further out to sea because of the high winds and seas.

After several tows, both vessels moored safely at MacMillan Wharf in Provincetown at 7:07 a.m.

The local harbormaster assisted the Coast Guard crew at the dock and also took the sailors to get them warm. They declined a trip to the hospital.

“This case is the biggest reason why we highly encourage all mariners to listen to the radio for weather warnings and take appropriate action,” said Scott Backholm, the search and rescue controller at Coast Guard Sector Southeastern New England. “These broadcasts really can save your life. Luckily these sailors were listening to our broadcast and were able to head back to shore.”

The man and woman aboard the Rodeo are from St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada. There were no injuries reported.

Hurricane force winds up to 65-knots and seas of 30-feet still continue for portions of the Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank.

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One Comment

  1. Monika Olejnik says:

    We have had a few days to digest the events of Saturday night, when we attempted to outrun the storm that developed off the coast of Massachusetts. As we begin to reel back from the hype of those events, we spend more and more time reflecting on the possibility that things may have turned out quite differently if it wasn’t for the bravery of the U.S. Coast Guard. There is very little we could put into words that would express our gratitude to the Motor Lifeboat crew that responded to our plea for assistance on that ill fated night. We were in as much awe of their courage and skill as we were of the conditions that befell us. The group of men that pulled us, our cat Pickle, and our “home” Rodeo to safety were just as relentless as the seas they were fighting, and we are eternally grateful for their efforts. By the time our engine failed, and we called in for help we had been battling the storm ourselves for over 8 hours. We were exhausted, wet and cold, and quite near giving up when the Coast Guard came out to tow us into the Provincetown harbor. We owe our lives to those men and are indebted to them for risking their own to bring us to safety. Thank you guys from the bottom of our hearts. God bless. We will pray for your safety and well-being.
    Monika and Gabriel
    S/V Rodeo
    Provincetown, MA