Coast Guard locates 3 boaters adrift

YANKEETOWN, Fla. – An HH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater, Fla., located three people in their 15-foot pleasure craft at about 6 p.m. Monday, after their boat became disabled and adrift eight miles southwest of Little Pine Island, Fla.

Dean Winn, 40, Shane Winn, 21, and Justin Winn, 13, from Lake City, Fla., left from the Shired Island boat ramp early Monday morning and became disabled at about 12 p.m. after their engine experienced mechanical failure. Mr. Winn attempted to make several calls to 911. However, due to his distance offshore, the cell phone signal was weak and did not allow him to communicate with rescuers. Mr. Winn was able to briefly connect with his girlfriend before he drifted out of cell phone range. Mr. Winn’s girlfriend contacted Coast Guard watchstanders from Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg, Fla., at about 3 p.m. and was able to report that Winn and his sons were ok, but their vessel was disabled and adrift off Shired Island.

Due to deteriorating weather conditions, the Coast Guard HH-60 Jayhawk rescue helicopter crew was immediately launched along with a Coast Guard Station Yankeetown 18-foot rescue boat crew to search for the Winn family. The helicopter crew located the Winn’s shortly before sunset after they had been adrift for almost six hours. The Station Yankeetown 18-foot rescue boat crew towed the vessel to Horseshoe Beach, Fla.

“This is a good example of why all mariners should have multiple means of communication when boating,” said Michael Viles, search and rescue supervisor at Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg.

The Coast Guard reminds boaters to stay safe this holiday weekend and to follow these 10 simple steps to be safe and responsible on the water:

  1. Always wear your life jacket.
  2. Avoid mixing alcohol and boating.
  3. Check your flares, fire extinguisher and other safety equipment to be certain it is in good condition and up-to-date. The Coast Guard Auxiliary and U.S. Power Squadrons offer free vessel safety checks that can help identify these or any other potential programs. Know your boat and its passengers.
  4. Familiarize yourself with an online weather service so it becomes a routine part of your pre-departure planning. Knowing potential conditions before you go makes float planning easier. The National Weather Service broadcasts marine weather forecasts regularly. Tune your VHF marine radio to 162.4 MHz or log onto the National Weather Service website at: www.nws.noaa.gov.
  5. Tell a friend, family member or marina harbor master where you are going and file a float plan. If you change plans, let them know.
  6. Purchase an emergency positioning indicating radio beacon, or EPIRB. Register it with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Registration is mandatory, improves response and reduces false alarms. It can also be completed online at www.beaconregistration.noaa.gov.
  7. Keep updated navigational charts on your boat and use them.
  8. Register your marine radio and obtain a free MMSI number that is assigned to a DSC radio.
  9. Shut off your engines when approaching swimmers or divers.
  10. Take at least one certified boating safety course.

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One Comment

  1. MST3 says:

    Bravo Zulu to my old station!!