Coast Guard rescues 3 people in the water off Bahamas

MIAMI - The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Bluefin rescued three boaters after their boat sank off West End, Bahamas, May 22, 2011.  The three boaters were wearing life jackets as they clung to a water cooler.  U.S. Coast Guard photo.

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Bluefin rescues three boaters after their boat sank off West End, Bahamas, May 22, 2011. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

MIAMI – The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Bluefin rescued three people following the activation of their personal locator beacon (PLB) when their vessel sank approximately 22 miles northwest of West End, Bahamas, Sunday.

Bruce Mandigo, Dave Mandigo and Jhade Woodall departed from Boynton Beach and had anchored near West End when their 35-foot vessel sank Sunday morning.

Seventh Coast Guard District search and rescue coordinators in Miami received notification of the PLB signal and launched an HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircraft from Coast Guard Air Station Miami to search for the source of the signal.

The HC-144 crew located the three people wearing life jackets and clinging to a water cooler. The HC-144 quickly directed the Coast Guard Cutter Bluefin to the location. The Bluefin’s crew rescued all three individuals. All three were cold and hungry, but in good health.

“These boaters survived a potentially fatal accident because they were prepared,” said Capt Chris Scraba, commanding officer of Coast Guard Sector Miami. “They immediately donned life jackets, which allowed them to stay afloat until they were rescued and they activated their PLB, which provided the Coast Guard precise location information.”

More than 75 percent of boating fatalities are due to drowning rather than injuries. Of the drowning cases, more than 90 percent of victims were not wearing a life jackets. As National Safe Boating Week kicks off the boating season, the Coast Guard reminds all boaters to assess their readiness to survive a similar accident and make sure they are prepared. A relatively small investment in life saving equipment, such as an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) or PLB, a VHF radio and life jackets, saves lives. Test all equipment from time to time to make sure it’s in working order and remember – life jackets work. Wear them.

The Bluefin is an 87-foot patrol boat homeported in Fort Pierce.

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  1. colleen torres says:

    Thank you to the blue fin coast guard for all that they do and a special thanks goes out to my brother shannon mCcarthy for his bravery,and shannons mom and dad are very proud of you .we love you all. love your family the mCarthys

  2. GB says:

    A number of us cruisers are curious about the timeline: how long did it take from the PLB signal till the boaters were located? And how long after that till the Bluefin arrived? Was it a GPS-enabled PLB?

    Many of us sailors keep EPIRBs and PLBs onboard for last-resort safety at sea, and are curious as to how a search-and-rescue like this actually works in real time.

    Can you post any more details?

    GLAD IT ALL WORKED OUT! Great job, USCG. You guys are awesome.

  3. Rob bob says:

    From time to PLB being set off to in the small boat took 4 hours (mainly transit time for aircraft and cutter to arrive on scene). Pretty darn good if you ask me. PLB that gave bearing and range, was accurate to about 400 yards in this case. THEY WORK.