Coast Guard rescues 2 sailors on Matagorda Island

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CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A Coast Guard helicopter crew and boatcrew rescued two men, a father and son, from their disabled sailboat on the beach near Matagorda Island late Sunday.

At approximately 11 p.m., watch standers at the Coast Guard Sector Corpus Christi command center and Coast Guard Station Port O’Connor received notification from the International Emergency Response Coordination Center of a distress signal in the form of a SPOT report being activated on the Gulf of Mexico side of Matagorda Island.

The father, a 70-year-old Portland Oregan native and his 48-year-old son activated the distress signal after the sailboat’s rudder had jammed and the boat washed up on the beach, then began to break up.

Watchstanders launched a boatcrew aboard a 25-foot response boat—small from Station Port O’Connor and an aircrew aboard a MH-65 Dolphin rescue helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Corpus Christi to assist. The response boat and helicopter arrived on scene to find both men on the beach with road flares lit to mark their position. The rescue helicopter lowered their rescue swimmer to the beach to determine that both men were uninjured, hoisted them both into the helicopter, and transported them to Naval Air Station Corpus Christi where they were released.

“We are grateful to be able to help these two sailors caught in an unfortunate situation,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Nick Gilmour, the rescue swimmer aboard the helicopter. “The fact that they had a Personal Locator Beacon, flares, and all the necessary safety equipment made it easy to be able to find and successfully rescue them. Their preparation and knowledge of how to use their equipment saved their lives.”

The father and son were at the beginning of a trip to sail their vessel from Texas to Belize.

“These sailors were extremely well prepared for any unforeseen circumstance,” said Cmdr. Daniel Deptula, the response officer at Coast Guard Sector Corpus Christi. “The SPOT device they used gave us a precise location where we could quickly send our rescue boat and helicopter. Their life jackets and other equipment made it possible for them to get to the safety on the beach and away from their sinking boat.”

With the summer weather and increased recreational boating, the Coast Guard would like to emphasize the use of safe boating practices. Have and know how to use a Personal Locator Beacon and a marine VHF radio, have a boating plan and communicate it with friends and family, do not boat under the influence of alcohol, and always wear a life jacket.

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