Coast Guard helicopter crew rescues 2 boaters from life raft in the Silver Banks

The crew of a Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Air Station Borinquen takes a photo with rescued boaters, Kirk Plender from New Hampshire and John Boone from South Carolina, following the rescue of the boaters from a life raft April 13, 2017. The boaters were forced to abandon the 62-foot sailing vessel Ocean Quest that sank in the Silver Banks, approximately 80 nautical miles north or Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic.

The crew of a Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Air Station Borinquen takes a photo with rescued boaters, Kirk Plender and John Boone following the rescue of the boaters from a life raft April 13, 2017. 

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — A Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew rescued two boaters from a life raft Thursday morning, after the 62-foot sailing vessel, Ocean Quest, sank in the Silver Banks fishing area, approximately 80 nautical miles north of Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic.

Rescued are Kirk Plender from New Hampshire and John Boone from South Carolina, who reportedly were transiting through the Silver Banks fishing grounds when the Ocean Quest reportedly struck a reef and started taking on water forcing the men to abandon the sailing vessel.

Watchstanders in Coast Guard Sector San Juan received a 406Mhz Emergency Positioning Indicating Radio Beacon alert at 4:29 a.m. Thursday communicating a potential distress. Watchstanders were able to establish satellite phone communications with the operator of the sailing vessel, who reported the sinking of the Ocean Quest and that he and the other boater were safely aboard a life raft with no injuries. A MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen was launched, while the Coast Guard Cutter Heriberto Hernandez was also diverted to locate and recover the boaters.

Upon the arrival of the Coast Guard helicopter on scene, the crew located the life raft, deployed their rescue swimmer and hoisted the two boaters to safety. The survivors were transported to Air Station Borinquen in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, where they were released following a medical assessment by Emergency Medical Service personnel.

“Having been forced to abandon ship so far from shore could have turned out much worse,” said Lt. Jake Conrad, Air Station Borinquen MH-65 Dolphin helicopter pilot. “It is indeed a testament to the boaters’ preparedness that we were able to conduct a safe rescue so quickly.”

Boating Safety Tips:

Boaters are reminded to equip their vessels with safety equipment, be mindful of state boating laws, and be courteous to fellow boaters while operating on the water.

There should be a personal flotation device on the vessel for each person, sized accordingly.

Boaters should have flares and are encouraged to have an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) with 406 MHz capabilities to enable a faster response by the Coast Guard in the event of an emergency.

Boaters should have an operational marine VHF radio on their boat in order to contact the Coast Guard on channel 16, in the event an emergency. The Coast Guard reminds radio operators that VHF channel 16 is an emergency channel and that improper transmission on channel 16 not only hampers Coast Guard response, but is punishable under federal law.

The Coast Guard strongly recommends that all boaters file a float plan with a friend or family member on land, with an approximate time of return and location to which you will be heading. It is also recommended that you regularly check in with those who are aware of your plan, especially if your plan should change.

Mariners should check current and forecasted weather conditions prior to getting underway, and remain aware of changing conditions once on the water.  The National Weather Service broadcasts weather conditions throughout the day on VHF channel WX2.  The Coast Guard broadcasts weather conditions on VHF channel 22A. Current weather information and advisories can be found on the National Weather Service website.

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