Coast Guard rescues capsized mariners off Atsena Otie Key

7th Coast Guard District NewsCEDAR KEY, Fla. — The Coast Guard rescued three mariners who were capsized and adrift two miles south east of Atsena Otie Key, Fla., Monday.

Watchstanders from Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg received a transferred 911 call at 7 p.m., Sunday, from a concerned family member. The reporting source stated three men; ages 53, 40, and 16-years-old were overdue from a sailing trip. The men departed from Cedar Key, Sunday, to sail their 16-foot fiberglass catamaran around Atsena Otie Key, approximately one mile off shore.

The reporting source also stated the mariners had no motor, lights, electronics or emergency equipment aboard.

Watchstanders launched an HH-60 Jayhawk rescue helicopter, from Air Station Clearwater, to the area where the mariners traveled. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Levy County also sent officers and a marine unit to assist with the search

After more than seven hours of continuous searching, the Jayhawk’s aircrew spotted the distressed mariners on the capsized hull at two miles offshore south east of Atsena Otie Key at 4:30 a.m. A rescue swimmer was lowered and plucked all three mariners from their capsized vessel.

“This case could of turned out differently,” said Richard Hutchinson, a Coast Guard search and rescue coordinator at Sector St. Petersburg.”These mariners are lucky to be alive; a case like this highlights how fast an emergency at sea, even one close to shore, can turn into a life or death situation.”

The Coast Guard reminds all mariners, no matter how far you’re sailing off shore, to have proper emergency life saving equipment on your vessel.

“Last night’s search conditions were very difficult,” added Hutchinson. “A hand held radio or Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) could have saved all involved several hours in a hostile marine environment.”

No injuries have been reported. The rescued mariners were taken to Air Station Clearwater for further transfer by EMS.

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