Coast Guard Rescues Missing Sailor

CHARLESTON, S.C. – A Coast Guard boat crew rescued a man after he fell from his catamaran and was reported missing by his fellow sailor approximately one-mile off Isle of Palms, S.C., at 2:53 p.m.

Siebelt Gerdes, 56, of Isle of Palms was sailing with a friend when he fell off their catamaran. Gerdes’ friend tried to recover him, but couldn’t maneuver the vessel to his position. Gerdes’ friend beached the catamaran and called 911.

Dispatchers from 911 dispatch contacted Coast Guard rescue coordinators at Sector Charleston to assist in the search effort for Gerdes at 2:08 p.m.

A Coast Guard rescue boat crew from Station Charleston launched to assist in the rescue along with a Coast Guard rescue aircrew from Air Facility Charleston. Rescue units from the Isle of Palms Fire Department, Charleston County Sheriff’s Office and South Carolina Department of natural resources also assisted in the search.

The Coast Guard rescue boat crew spotted Gerdes about a mile off the most southern point of Isle of Palms. Gerdes was wearing a lifejacket and was using his t-shirt as a signaling device.

“The fact that Mr. Gerdes was wearing a lifejacket and was creative enough to use his shirt as a signaling device probably saved his life,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Eric Brown, a member of the rescue crew that pulled Gerdes from the water. “I don’t know if we would have spotted him as quickly as we did if he hadn’t done everything right.”

Gerdes was transported to Charleston Harbor Marina and was in good condition.

The Coast Guard recommends all boaters wear Coast Guard approved lifejackets whenever they are on the water. Boaters may not have time to put on their lifejacket because conditions and situations on the water can change rapidly. Wearing a lifejacket greatly increases a person’s chances of being rescued if they go in the water.

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