Coast Guard assists sailboat taking on water 90 miles south of Panama City

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MOBILE, Ala. — The Coast Guard assisted a man aboard a sailboat taking on water approximately 90 nautical miles south of Panama City, Fla., in the Gulf of Mexico Thursday.

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg, Fla., initially received an unlocated 406 megahertz signal from an emergency position indicating radio beacon from the 37-foot sailboat The Good Life. The registered owner of the vessel, Matthew Smith, reported the vessel was sold to Jeffrey McKittrick. Smith reported McKittrick departed Fort Meyers, Fla., three days ago for a trip en route to Mobile; Smith reported The Good Life is equipped with a life raft and a six-foot dinghy.

McKittrick departed from Tampa, Fla., when his vessel reportedly lost power and began to slowly take on water more than 90 miles southwest of Cape San Blas, Fla. McKittrick made a distress call on a hand-held VHF-FM radio at approximately 12:30 a.m. Thursday and then activated his EPIRB.

Coast Guard Sector Mobile directed the launch of an HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircrew from Coast Guard Aviation Training Center Mobile, a Coast Guard Station Panama City 45-foot Response Boat — Medium boatcrew and the 87-foot Coast Guard Cutter Coho to the location of The Good Life. The HC-144 aircrew located the vessel and vectored the RB-M and the cutter Coho to its location.

The 45-footer boatcrew embarked McKittrick, while the Coho took his vessel in tow.

“Prepared mariners like McKittrick make coordinating response efforts easy,” said Cmdr. Eric King, chief of response, Sector Mobile. “Although he was more than 90 miles offshore, our robust Rescue 21 system allowed us to hear his call for help. McKittrick’s EPIRB provided us his position and significantly reduced our search area.”

The Coast Guard recommends boaters have an EPIRB on board their vessel. An EPIRB provides search-and-rescue coordinators with vital information such as phone numbers and the description and type of vessel, which can help reduce the time it takes to locate anyone in distress. Boaters should register their EPIRB at

For more information on EPIRBs and other signaling devices, click here.

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