Savannah, Ga., aircrew rescues couple after vessel grounding

Southeastern Coast Guard NewsJACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Savannah,Ga., rescued a man and woman Sunday morning after the boaters became disoriented and ran their vessel aground, stranding them on their boat in the Wright River near Elba Island, Ga.

Operational watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Charleston, S.C., learned of the accident at 10:50 p.m., Saturday after the mariners used a cell phone to call for help, stating their 15-foot jet boat was aground in the marsh.

The man and woman did not have a GPS and could not provide their precise location so instead they gave a description of their surroundings to help responders locate them. Sector watchstanders lost communication with them shortly after.

Using the couple’s geographic description and information obtained from cell phone towers to determine where they might be, the watchstanders directed air and boat crews to begin searching.

A boatcrew aboard a 25-foot Response Boat-Small from Coast Guard Station Tybee Island, Ga., launched, as well as an aircrew aboard an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Air Station Savannah.

The aircrew located the couple at 3:54 a.m. Sunday, hoisted them into the helicopter and took them to Air Station Savannah where a family member was waiting to pick them up. The man and woman were not injured.

The owner is working with commercial salvage to recover the vessel.

The Coast Guard encourages all boaters to carry a VHF-FM marine-band radio as their primary means of communication on the water. VHF-FM marine-band radios are far more reliable than cells phones in the marine environment. VHF-FM Channel 16, the international hailing and distress channel, is monitored by the Coast Guard and state marine patrols around the clock. In addition, mariners in the vicinity will hear distress calls broadcast over VHF-FM Channel 16. Urgent safety information and weather reports for boaters are also broadcast over marine band radio channels.

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