Coast Guard urges caution during dangerous surf conditions in Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands

National Weather Service LogoSAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The U.S. Coast Guard is urging boaters, swimmers and surfers to avoid the dangerous high-surf conditions along the northern coasts of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Coast Guard Watchstanders at Sector San Juan continue to monitor the weather due to long period swells that continue to affect local Atlantic waters and Caribbean Passages that generate large breaking waves of eight to 10 feet and locally higher along the northern exposed coastlines of the islands.

Watchstanders at Sector San Juan received a call for assistance Wednesday evening when a young adult jumped into the water at the Crashboat pier in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico and was not able to swim back to shore. Coast Guard Cutter Cushing, a 110-foot patrol boat home ported in San Juan and an MH-65 Dolphin rescue  helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen are currently still searching for this person in the water off Aguadilla.

Watchstanders at Sector San Juan received a call for assistance from St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands Wednesday evening when a young adult was swept by the waves into the water near Magens Bay, Puerto Rico. His sister jumped in the water to assist him and eventually both were able to make it back to shore safely. A rescue boat crew from Coast Guard Station St Thomas, an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Air Station Borinquen and local police assisted in the search for the two young adults in distress.

Watchstanders in Sector San Juan received a call for assistance Friday from three good Samaritan who reported two surfers in distress in Condado, Puerto Rico. An MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Air Station Borinquen arrived on scene and hoisted one of the surfers out of the water, while the other was able to paddle safely back to shore. A Coast Guard Small Boat from Station San Juan also reported on scene to assist.

“Surfers, swimmers and recreational boaters must pay close attention to these dangerous surf conditions, we already had to respond to three cases were life potentially maybe lost” said Capt. Marc Stegman, Sector San Juan acting commander. “People should also stay off the rocks near the shoreline until surf conditions normalize. ”

Recreational boaters, swimmers and surfers should monitor this situation through updated National Weather Service advisories and take appropriate action to minimize the risks associated with these predicted conditions. http://forecast.weather.gov/wwamap/wwatxtget.php?cwa=sju&wwa=high%20surf%20advisory.

Safety Tips:

  • If you become caught in a rip current…do not panic. Calmly, remain afloat, gather your bearings relative to the beach and swim parallel to the beach. You will eventually leave the grip of this narrow current and be able to safely swim to shore.
  • Check the weather before casting off and monitor the weather by radio continuously.
  • It is recommended that everyone always wear a life jacket when in the water, but at a minimum have a properly fitting life jacket for every person on board and ensure that they are quickly accessible. Often, when trouble happens, it happens fast.
  • Know the boat you are on, including the location and operation of all safety gear, including a VHF-marine radio. This is especially true if renting or borrowing a boat that you may not be familiar with.
  • A float plan should be prepared and shared with friends and family. That will give them an idea of where you are going and when you will return home. The float plan has all pertinent information about your boat, increasing your chances of being rescued. You can download a float plan at: http://www.floatplancentral.org/.

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