Coast Guard Station Ponce Inlet rescues man after sail boat sinks

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Coast Guard responded to a mayday call from Anthony Nogradi, 43, of Holley Hill and rescued him following the sinking of his 23-foot sail boat in Ponce de Leon Inlet, Fla., Monday.

Executing search plans developed by Operation Unit Controllers at the Sector Jacksonville command center, a 47-foot rescue boat crew from Station Ponce Inlet and an HH-60 Jayhawk helicopter air crew from Air Station Clearwater were launched.

The Coast Guard was notified at 3:37 a.m., by a bridge tender working aboard the George Munson Bridge in New Smyrna Beach, Fla., of a mayday call on VHF Channel 9. This was unusual, because the national hailing and distress frequency is VHF Channel 16. At about the same time, the Coast Guard received, “mayday, mayday, I’m sinking at the inlet,” over VHF Channel 16.

While searching near the jetties located within Ponce Inlet, the rescue boat crew heard faint screams.

“I looked the crew and asked ‘did you hear that?’,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Joshua Richardson, lead crewmember aboard the rescue boat. “The crew then heard, ‘yes I am over here’.”

The boat crew turned on the spot light and located the distressed boater in the water, wearing one life jacket and holding on to 2 other life jackets. The boat crew tossed a heaving line to the boater and pulled him aboard.

“During a debriefing, he informed us that he was transiting out of Ponce Inlet aboard the 23-foot sail boat Common Girl, when his rudder broke causing water to flood the vessel and sink,” said Richardson.

“Thinking quickly, he anchored the vessel and called for help,” Richardson added. “Because the vessel was sinking to fast to be saved, he put on a life jacket and cut the anchor line and tied it to a second life jacket and to himself, where he waited until the rescue occurred, approximately and hour and a half later.”

This rescue demonstrates the critical importance of wearing a life jacket in the event of an emergency. Boaters are also recommended to know the names of nearby landmarks and the body of water they are operating on. In the event of an emergency, that information is critical to Coast Guard response efforts.

“Details are critical during a search and rescue case,” said Jeffrey Royer, a Sector Jacksonville command center watchstander. “In this case, although the mayday was sounded, to ensure exactly where you are, the Coast Guard needs to know as many details as possible as time allows.”

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