ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.— The Coast Guard rescued a man and his dog after his 30-foot sailboat caught fire 69 miles west of Hudson, Florida, Friday.
At approximately 3:30 p.m. watchstanders from Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg received a report via VHF-FM marine radio channel 16 of the captain aboard the sailboat, Southern Belle, stating his boat was disabled and he had been drifting, with his dog, since Wednesday. He stated he had food and water. Watchstanders immediately issued a Marine Assistance Request Broadcast.
At approximately 4:30 p.m. the man reported his boat had caught fire and he, along with his dog, had abandoned ship and had boarded the sailboat’s dinghy.
An MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from Air Station Clearwater, Florida, and a 45-foot Response Boat-Medium boatcrew from Station Sand Key, Florida, were launched.
At approximately 5:30 p.m. the helicopter crew arrived on scene, hoisted the man and his dog and transported them to the air station, where EMS was waiting for further medical assistance.
“He contacted us via radio as soon as his situation deteriorated, was wearing a life jacket when he was rescued, and we were able to recover him safely.” said Lt. Cmdr. Gabe Somma, public affairs officer for the Coast Guard’s Seventh District. “This case really highlights just how critically important it is to have the proper lifesaving equipment onboard. All mariners should have lifejackets, flares, a VHF radio and an Electronic Position Indicating Radio Beacon before heading out on the water”.