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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  1. Gary Joyce says:

    Even with the proper safety equipment, it goes to show there’s no substitute for common sense. I don’t know how you USCG folks do it. I’d be tempted to fire a shot across their bow … and miss the “across” part.

  2. doug says:

    to report that this boat was “caught” in a storm implies that they were somehow caught off guard or by surprise by the weather. This weather was accurately predicted for days, and instead of being “caught” in it, these fools recklessly put their lives at risk, and then put the lives of their rescuers at risk. If they were really sailing to P Rico, 12′ seas and 30-40 kt winds should have been expected, rather than something that took them by surprise. OF course, the USCG won’t send them a bill, but I think they should!

  3. Steve Hillman says:

    Sounds like the owner should pay the USCG salvage fees. 7 hour tow? I would have thought scuttling the vessel and removing its crew would have A. been more cost effective and B. would have prevented these idiots from heading out again.

    They ripped their sails AND I assume they couldn’t get their engine running and that classifies as an EPIRB event? They may have been scared and uncomfortable, but it doesn’t sound like they were in a life threatening situation, otherwise they would have been taken off. 8 to 12 isn’t fun, but a well found vessel should have been able to ride it out.

    File under: More Owners than Captains!