Coast Guard, local agencies rescues 2 men, dog

CHARLESTON, S.C. — The Coast Guard and local first responders rescued two men and a dog when their sailing vessel began taking on water approximately a half mile off the coast of Kiawah Island, Saturday.

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Charleston received notification of the distress through Digital Selective Calling, the one-button emergency transmission feature on their boat’s VHF radio. The transmission relayed the identification number of the vessel and its position at the time of the transmission. The watchstanders contacted the crew over the VHF radio and were able to determine that the sailboat had become temporarily grounded, but that everyone aboard was safe.

“We determined they weren’t in immediate distress, but we continued to monitor the situation,” said Chief Petty Officer Eric Gentry, command duty officer for Sector Charleston. “At that point the decision was made that we would place the vessel on a communications schedule and wait until high tide to see if that would refloat the boat and it did.”

Shortly after becoming free from its grounding, the crew aboard the sailboat discovered they were taking on water and ran their sailboat aground 100 yards off of Kiawah Island. The Coast Guard notified the Charleston Fire Department and the Charleston County Sheriffs Office, informing them of the situation and each launched a response boat to assist. A helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Facility Charleston arrived on scene first, shortly followed a rescue boat from the Charleston Fire Department. The aircrew hovered over the distressed vessel as the fire department crew brought the two men and their dog aboard the rescue boat.

Salvage of the sailboat will be coordinated by the owner of the vessel.

The Coast Guard urges all boaters to carry a marine band radio aboard their vessel whenever they get go out on the water. Unlike a cell phone, which may receive spotty or no coverage when underway and can be extremely vulnerable to the smallest amount of water, VHF radios are much more reliable and are built to withstand the natural marine environment.

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