Sacramento man rescued off La Playa, Mexico

ALAMEDA, Calif. – A 66-year old Sacramento native was rescued from his sinking sailboat early this morning after the boat began taking on water 400 miles south of San Diego and 40 miles west of La Playa, Mexico late last night.

Max Young, a seasoned sailor, was traveling from Central America alone when his 50-foot sailboat, the Reflections, was damaged by a breaching whale resulting in a loss of steering and flooding.

He activated his emergency position indicating radio beacon and the 11th Coast Guard District Command Center in Alameda, Calif., received the distress alert at approximately midnight. His EPRIB delivered precise global positioning system coordinates to the command center as well as information on the vessel and the operator.

From the EPIRB alert alone, the command center watch diverted an HC-130 Hercules aircraft from Coast Guard Air Station Sacramento to investigate. The Coast Guard also requested assistance from the Ocean Virgo, a Panamanian-flagged merchant ship participating in the Automated Mutual-Assistance Vessel Rescue System. AMVER is a voluntary system sponsored by the Coast Guard where ocean going vessels provide route intentions and position information to the AMVER system, allowing the Coast Guard to identify possible responders in the area of distress. The Ocean Virgo was approximately 60 miles away and immediately headed to the scene.

“As supervisor in this long-range search and rescue case, I knew we had to find the right assets to respond to this mariner that was in obvious distress,” said Lt. Erin O’Donnell, the command duty officer overseeing the rescue efforts.

When the crew of the Hercules located and established radio communications with Young at about 2 a.m., he was baling water from his boat. He had also deployed his life raft in case he had to abandon his boat.

The Hercules remained on scene until the Ocean Virgo arrived around 4 a.m., and Young was safely taken aboard shortly after sunrise. He is currently en route to Panama and plans to return to Sacramento.

“The fact that Young was prepared with all the right safety equipment helped save his life,” said Lt. Charles Kelly, a watchstander at the command center. “His EPIRB delivered an exact position to us, contact information that allowed us to quickly discern the sail plan of and number of persons on the vessel, and really took a lot of the search out of the search and rescue.”

EPIRBs are an important life-saving tool that every mariner is recommended to have aboard prior to setting out on the water, especially if traveling offshore. EPIRBs can be easily purchased at marine stores and on the internet, and boaters are reminded to register the EPIRBS to help ensure an effective response.

“Many successful long-range rescues are a result of the vessels who voluntarily participate in the AMVER system, and the professional mariners who sail them.” said Rear Admiral Joseph “Pepe” Castillo, 11th Coast Guard District commander. “Mr. Young’s rescue is a perfect example of the impact and importance of Coast Guard partnerships with the maritime community.”

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