Coast Guard rescues boater from adrift sailing vessel in Gulf of Alaska

Coast Guard Alaska NewsKODIAK, Alaska — A Coast Guard Air Station Sitka MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew rescued a boater from a 31-foot sailing vessel in the Gulf of Alaska Tuesday.

The helicopter crew safely hoisted the man from the deck of the Etak 200 miles northwest of Sitka and will transport him to Sitka to be met by emergency medical personnel. He is reportedly uninjured. The boater activated his registered emergency position indicating radio beacon when his vessel lost power Tuesday morning.

“The use of the properly registered EPIRB alerted us to the mariner’s situation and allowed us to locate him quickly,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Erik Ihle, an operations specialist with the Coast Guard command center in Juneau. “Due to the loss of power and the weather it was determined the safest course of action was to hoist the boater from the vessel and bring him to Sitka.”

The Etak is currently adrift and unlit. A broadcast notice to mariners is being issued to advise marine traffic in the area of the unmanned vessel as it poses a hazard to navigation. The Coast Guard aircrew dropped a self-locating data marker buoy to monitor the set and drift of the vessel to track its location. Weather in the vicinity of the vessel is reportedly 30 mph winds with 8 to 10-foot seas.

The Etak reportedly departed Valdez en route to Sitka April 1 with one person aboard. Personnel at the Coast Guard command center in Juneau received notification of the EPIRB at about 11 a.m. and made call outs to the vessel with no response. They directed the launch of the Coast Guard aircrews.

The Coast Guard encourages mariners to prepare for Alaska’s harsh maritime environment and ensure their emergency position indicating radio beacons are properly registered before leaving port.

EPIRBs operate on the international distress frequency, 406MHz, and broadcast a signal that can be instantly detected by satellites and provide search and rescue personnel with an accurate location of the person or vessel in distress.

Pursuant to the FCC’s Rules, only EPIRBs operating on frequency 406 MHz may be manufactured, imported or sold in the United States. The FCC requires owners to register all 406 MHz EPIRBs which helps rescuers locate people faster in an emergency. Failure to register an EPIRB may result in monetary penalties up to $112,500.

EPIRB registration is free of charge and can be done online at the following website: http://www.beaconregistration.noaa.gov/

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