Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Charleston received the initial report from the container ship, Bull Hunter, stating a 55-foot sailboat off the coast of St. Simons Island had become disabled due to loss of steering, late Thursday evening. The reporting source also stated that the three people aboard were suffering from dehydration from sea sickness due to heavy seas and winds in excess of 30 knots.
The Coast Guard launched the Coast Guard Cutter Yellowfin, an 87-foot coastal patrol boat, to assist, but the crew wasn’t able to safely launch its small boat.
“During any evolution, safety is a top priority for the Coast Guard,” said Lt. Cmdr. Shannon Scaff, chief of planning and readiness for Coast Guard Sector Charleston. “It’s a factor that is constantly evaluated and reevaluated as any operation proceeds. To make the necessary decisions to save a life, it’s matter of identifying and mitigating those inherent risks.”
At first light Friday, an aircrew aboard an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater, Florida, arrived on scene, hoisted the three people and transported them to McKinnon St. Simons Island Airport where they were transferred to local paramedics.