Coast Guard saves four in winter storm

BOSTON – The Coast Guard rescued four people aboard a storm-ravaged sailboat Friday, about 7 miles south of Block Island, R.I.

The crew of the 45-foot Moonshine left East Greenwich, R.I., Friday morning, bound for Puerto Rico, when they were caught in an offshore storm, which ripped their sails and disabled their propulsion. They activated their emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB). The Coast Guard received the signal and tracked their position.

The First District Command Center in Boston, launched a 47-foot motor lifeboat crew from Station Point Judith, R.I. and a helicopter crew from Air Station Cape Cod. Both crews arrived at about 1 a.m., at the last position the EPIRB indicated, but because of the 30-40 knot winds, the sailboat was drifting out of position faster than the beacon could transmit. Visibility was less than one mile, and the seas were 8-12 feet.

The crew of the Moonshine shot off a flare, and the rescue crews located the disabled sailboat and determined no one was injured.

The motor lifeboat crew took the Moonshine in tow. After a nearly seven-hour transit, they arrived near Montauk, N.Y., and transferred the tow to a Station Montauk lifeboat crew who took the Moonshine and crew safely to Montauk at about 9 a.m., today.

“If they didn’t have the EPIRB or flares, it would have been extremely hard to find them out there in the snow,” said Lt. j.g. Ben O’Loughlin, the watchstander at the command center in Boston.

Air temperature was 39 degrees and the water, 42 degrees.

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