SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Oak rescued two men Thursday afternoon aboard the disabled, dismasted and adrift sailing vessel Fools Wisdom, approximately 50 nautical miles north of Puerto Rico.
Rescued were Benedict McLawrence, 64, and Joel Baptiste, 30, both Grenadian citizens, who reported being adrift since May 8, after their sailing vessel experienced engine problems following their departure from the island of St. Maarten. The rescued men, who were traveling to the island of Grenada, were unable to report the distress due their marine radio being inoperable.
While underway Thursday afternoon, the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Oak contacted the Coast Guard Sector San Juan Command Center and reported being concerned with the sighting of a vessel that appeared to be dead in the water . The Oak diverted to investigate and arrived on scene with the Fools Wisdom that was found with its mast broken in half and an inoperable rudder.
“We were fortunate to be in the right place at the right time and saw an orange smoke float deployed from the sailboat,” said Lt. Cmdr. Whitney Houck, Coast Guard Cutter Oak commanding officer. “I was relieved to find out they had packed enough food, water, and emergency equipment for their trip and were in pretty decent shape considering how long they had been adrift.”
The Oak proceeded to embark the two Grenadians and take the 60-foot sailing vessel in tow. The Oak transited to San Juan, Puerto Rico, where they rendezvoused with the crew of a Coast Guard 45-foot Response Boat Medium from Boat Station San Juan Friday morning and transferred the tow of the Fools Wisdom and the two men.
The Fool Wisdom was safely towed to San Juan Bay Marina, while the two passengers onboard were transferred to Emergency Medical Service personnel and transported to a local hospital to receive needed medical care.