Coast Guard responds to disabled sailboat west of the Florida Keys

KEY WEST, Fla. — The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Ocracoke responded Saturday to the 37-foot Canadian-flagged sailboat Emanuel with seven people aboard that became disabled after one of their masts was damaged Friday.

Watchstanders at the Seventh Coast Guard District Command Center in Miami received the initial call Friday at 2 p.m. from a member of the Maritime Mobility Service Network, a network of amateur radio operators, who stated he received a radio call from the crew of the Emanuel. The crew reported that the Emanuel's mast was damaged 285 miles west of Key West and they were heading to the Dry Tortugas National Park, Dry Tortugas, Fla., under auxiliary power.

Coast Guard search-and-rescue coordinators at Sector Key West established communications with the crew of the Emanuel and set up a communications schedule to allow the Coast Guard to track the Emanuel and monitor their situation as they headed to the Dry Tortugas.

At approximately 5:30 a.m. Saturday, the crew of the Emanuel stopped responding to radio calls from Sector Key West watchstanders. The Coast Guard immediately diverted an HC-130 Hercules aircrew from Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater and the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Ocracoke to locate and re-establish communications with the Emanuel.

The HC-130 aircrew arrived on scene at 7 a.m. Saturday and re-established communications with the crew of the Emanuel. The crew reported they had lost control of their helm and had no way of steering their vessel. At 9 a.m. the crew reported that were experiencing problems with their engine and they had become adrift. Prior to departing the scene to refuel, the HC-130 aircrew dropped a Self Locating Datum Marker Buoy that floats and passes positional information to the Coast Guard via satellite. The positional information assisted Sector Key West search-and-rescue coordinators to track the location of the Emanuel as the crew of the Ocracoke continued to head towards the Emanuel.

An HU-25 Falcon jet aircrew from Coast Guard Air Station Miami was diverted later on Saturday to re-locate and establish communications with the crew of the Emanuel.

The crew of the Ocracoke arrived on scene late Saturday night and took the Emanuel in tow. The crew of the Ocracoke are currently towing the Emanuel and the crew towards the Dry Tortugas National Park where they will be met by commercial salvage who will tow them the rest of the way to Key West.

Coast Guard Cutter Ocracoke is a 110-foot patrol boat homeported in St. Petersburg, Fla.

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