Coast Guard rescues man from 39-foot sailboat in distress 68 miles offshore

MCKINLEYVILLE, Calif. – A Coast Guard helicopter rescued a crewman from the sailing vessel Dorial, when the vessel became disabled 68 miles west of Crescent City, Calif.

file photo

At 11:27 a.m. the Dorial crew broadcasted a MAYDAY distress call on VHF Channel 16. The vessel had lost its engine and sails were wrapped around the mast by the strong winds. Unable to sail or operate their engine the vessel was adrift in 20-foot seas with two people on board.

Coast Guard Group Humboldt Bay launched an H-65 helicopter from Humboldt Bay and a C-130 aircraft from Air Station Sacramento. The helicopter arrived on scene 12:54 p.m. and confirmed that both crewmen were wearing survival equipment.

The captain, a 49-year-old male, and crewman, a 41-year-old male, were sailing Dorial from their home in British Columbia, Canada to Mexico.

The crewman was ready to abandon ship, but the captain wanted to ride out the storm in hopes of recovering the sails and sailing Dorial into port after the weather calmed down. The helicopter recovered the crewman and transported him to Air Station Humboldt Bay; he had no injuries. The C-130 remained on scene with Dorial until it was determined the captain was not in need of assistance. Group Humboldt Bay will continue to monitor the situation.

This case highlights the capabilities of the Coast Guards new Rescue 21 communications system. “Hearing a MAYDAY from 68 miles offshore is impressive” said Lt. Rob Starr, Group Humboldt Bay’s Surface Operations Officer. The Rescue 21 system enables the Coast Guard to listen, playback and triangulate a position from distress calls all along the coast.

The crew of the Dorial ensured their own survival by having proper survival equipment and a marine VHF radio strong enough to reach shore. The Coast Guard also highly recommends an Electronic Position Indicating Radio Beach; which are available for rent from numerous companies if individuals can’t afford to purchase one.

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