After 3+ years adrift, Mass. boat located off Spain coast

1st Coast Guard District NewsBOSTON — A 26-foot pleasure boat, registered in the U.S., was located 20 miles off the northern coast of Spain, Jan. 17, 2012, three and a half years after stormy sea conditions ejected its crew off the coast of Nantucket, Mass.

The U.S. Coast Guard received the report of the located flotsam from Maritime Rescue Coordination Center Madrid Jan. 24, 2012, and was able to link the vessel to a search and rescue case that occurred Aug. 25, 2008, near Nantucket, Mass.

During that case, the Coast Guard responded to reports of two men who had been ejected from the center console vessel Queen Bee while attempting to cross a bar in 6 to 8-foot sea conditions. Both men were able to swim to Esther Island, Mass., and were provided first aid upon recovery.

The men located a rescue bag with a PFD and swam for two hours in an effort to reach the nearest shoreline. “Three things popped out after we got hit,” said Douglas, the vessel owner and operator. “Rich, me, and that bag.”

“There were times when both of us didn’t think we were going to make it,” said Douglas. “Everything had to go our way. It was a miracle.”

Due to the dangerous sea state, the vessel was left to drift once the men were rescued.

The Queen Bee likely drifted into the Gulf Stream and then north to the North Atlantic Current, said Art Allen with the Coast Guard’s Office of Search and Rescue. From there it would have headed east to Spain before being located 1,241 days later, after a 3,500 nautical mile trip.

Referring to the boat’s extended voyage, Dr. Don Murphy with the U.S. Coast Guard’s International Ice Patrol said that a trans-Atlantic drift is rare, but not unheard of.

The Coast Guard deploys data collection buoys designed to track, study, and report currents in the northern Atlantic, said Murphy. Those buoys have been recovered anywhere from regions north of Scotland to, most recently and coincidentally, Spain.

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