After overnight search, Coast Guard rescues three off Anclote Key

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The Coast Guard is still in the process of completing the tow of a 24-foot disabled vessel after late night and early morning searches resulted in the rescue of three people Sunday, approximately 40-miles northwest of Anclote Key.

At approximately 10:00 p.m. Saturday, Coast Guard watch standers at Station Sand Key received a call from a concerned friend of three men who had failed to return from a fishing trip Saturday afternoon, as expected. Alberto Rodriguez, Raul Estrada, and Albert Valdez left for a fishing trip 60-miles northwest of Anclote Key, and were unable to return after experiencing mechanical problems with their 24-foot Proline boat. The men were able to contact a friend to report their distress, but were not able to give their exact location.

At 10:20 p.m., watch standers at Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg directed the launch of an HH-60 Jayhawk rescue helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater, Fla., to search for the men. Unable to locate the boat throughout the night, additional searches were continued from the air station this morning, with the launch of an HC-130 Hercules flight crew. At approximately 8:45 a.m., a 47-foot motor life boat was launched from Station Sand Key, after search crews aboard the HC-130 airplane spotted a flare set off by the three men, approximately 40 miles northwest of Anclote Key.

The vessel is being towed to Coast Guard Station Sand Key, and the three men are reportedly in good condition.

“This is a good example of why all boaters should file float plans and have several signaling devices available to them,” said Capt. Timothy Close, commander, Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg. “Float plans work, and signaling devices work. We were able to find them largely because they filed a float plan, and brought means of communication and signaling devices with them.”

The Coast Guard reminds boaters to follow these 10 simple steps to be safe and responsible on the water:

  1. Always wear your life jacket.
  2. Avoid mixing alcohol and boating.
  3. Check your flares, fire extinguisher and other safety equipment to be certain it is in good condition and up-to-date. The Coast Guard Auxiliary and U.S. Power Squadrons offer free vessel safety checks that can help identify these or any other potential programs. Know your boat and its passengers.
  4. Familiarize yourself with an online weather service so it becomes a routine part of your pre-departure planning. Knowing potential conditions before you go makes float planning easier. The National Weather Service broadcasts marine weather forecasts regularly. Tune your VHF marine radio to 162.4 MHz or log onto the National Weather Service website at:
  5. Tell a friend, family member or marina harbormaster where you are going and file a float plan. If you change plans, let them know.
  6. Purchase an emergency positioning indicating radio beacon, or EPIRB. Register it with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Registration is mandatory, improves response and reduces false alarms. It can also be completed online at
  7. Keep updated navigational charts on your boat and use them.
  8. Register your marine radio and obtain a free MMSI number that is assigned to a DSC radio.
  9. Shut off your engines when approaching swimmers or divers.
  10. Take at least one certified boating safety course.

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