Station Rochester tows sail boat beset in rough seas

ROCHESTER, N.Y. – U.S. Coast Guard Station Rochester towed a 41-foot sail boat with four people on board 18 miles offshore, Saturday, at approximately 10:30 a.m.

“They were shaken up a bit. One person was sea-sick and another was hypothermic, just pretty cold and wet,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Kenneth LaDuke, Officer-of-the-day, Station Rochester.

A 47-foot motor lifeboat (MLB) crew towed the 41-footer back safely to Shumway Marina after it became disabled in high winds and rough seas.

A crewmember aboard the sailboat hailed the Coast Guard on channel 16 after encountering 30-knot sustained winds and 40-knot gusts.

After the vessel’s main sail started tearing, the crew lowered the sail and deployed its drogue anchor, which then got caught in the vessel’s propeller.

Initially, the four people embarked from Toronto at about noon Friday to sail to Rochester.

All four were wearing life jackets.

Mariners are encouraged to invest in a VHF-FM radio as their primary means of distress alerting on the water. Communication via VHF-FM radio provides superior alerting capabilities over cellular phones.

When a MAYDAY is sent out via VHF-FM radio it is a broadcast, not just one party is receiving the distress call; any nearby boaters can hear the distress call and offer immediate assistance.

All recreational boats must carry one wearable PFD (Type I, II, III or Type V PFD) for each person aboard. Any boat 16ft and longer (except canoes and kayaks) must also carry one throwable PFD (Type IV PFD).

The law states you must have a PFD on board, but the Coast Guard recommends you wear your PFD at all times when boating. It is much more difficult to locate, access or don a PFD at the moment the accident occurs.

Additional information on life jackets (PFDs), can be found at

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