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New York to USVIs: Disabled catamaran abandoned by crew

By www.seacoastonline.com — last modified Jan 16, 2014 02:32 PM
A crew aboard an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, N.C., rescued four people aboard a 42-foot sailboat in the Atlantic Ocean approximately 300 miles east of Cape Henry, Va., Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014. Due to the distance offshore, the Jayhawk crew had to land aboard the USS Ross, a 505-foot guided missile destroyer, to refuel before and after hoisting the four people aboard their helicopter. The four people were taken to Air Station Elizabeth City, N.C. with no reported injuries.

Published: 2014-01-16 00:00:00
Topics: Safety and Medical
Countries: US Virgin Islands , USA

Report from www.seacoastonline.com

PORTSMOUTH, USA — South End resident Charlie Doane returned home Wednesday following a days-long ordeal at sea earlier this week, in which he and three others were rescued from a disabled sailboat floating adrift hundreds of miles off the coast of Virginia.

The rescue, which occurred roughly 300 miles east of Cape Henry, Va., was captured on video by members of the U.S. Coast Guard on board a Jayhawk helicopter.

Doane, an editor for Sail magazine and self-described “experienced sailor,” appeared calm and collected inside his Pleasant Street home Wednesday afternoon while retelling his experience at sea.

The journey began Jan. 8, when Doane said he boarded a 42-foot sailboat called “Be Good Too” for a delivery trip from New York to the U.S. Virgin Islands. Also on board the vessel were boat owners Gunther and Doris Rodatz, as well as another experienced sailor named Hank Schmidt, who Doane said was hired by the owners to skipper the boat to the Caribbean.

The first two days of the journey was easy sailing, Doane said. Things started taking a turn for the worse on Friday, when Doane said the wind began to increase in strength and the seas began to build.

Up to this point in the journey, Doane said he and the rest of the crew had experienced only a few minor issues while sailing.

But all of that changed on Saturday, when Doane said the sailboat was struck by a massive wave.

“It was one big hit right across the front of the boat,” he said. “It was a huge hit.”

The boat was then almost simultaneously struck by another wave, Doane recalled.

With obvious damage to the boat's steering capabilities, as well as a diminished propulsion system, Doane said a decision was made to lay idle and “let the waves do with you what they will.”

“This was one the one time I was nervous,” he said.

In the days to follow, Doane said he and the others on board attempted to fix some of the damage caused by the weather. Not only were they forced to try to pump water from inside the boat, but Doane said they also worked to repair the ship's damaged steering mechanics.

“The rudder had somehow been bent,” he said. “It was useless.”

So, after doing everything they could to repair the boat and continue on their journey south, Doane said a decision was made collectively to abandon the boat and seek a rescue.

“We opened a bottle of good wine and had a discussion on what we should do,” he said.

The very next day, Doane said the vessel was reported in distress and the Coast Guard began to devise a rescue plan for Doane and his fellow crew members.

Coast Guard officials were initially going to respond to the disabled boat with a Coast Guard cutter, however they determined that was not feasible due to the distance offshore.

Officials then contacted U.S. Fleet Forces personnel, requesting a Navy vessel to assist the Coast Guard in their response. The USS Ross, a 505-foot guided missile destroyer, diverted from its course to provide a refueling platform for a Coast Guard helicopter on its way to conduct the rescue mission.

Matthew Brooks, a Coast Guard 5th District Command Center command duty officer, said in a prepared statement that officials spoke with the crew aboard the boat Monday and agreed that they would depart the vessel Monday night. However, that proved challenging, according to Brooks.

“We did not want to conduct a transfer at night due to the risk of the mission and the fact that the crew was not in immediate distress,” he said.

On Tuesday, Coast Guard officials dispatched crews aboard a Jayhawk helicopter and an HC-130 Hercules aircraft from Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, N.C., at approximately 6:20 a.m. to assist.

The Jayhawk crew landed on the USS Ross to refuel at approximately 7:30 a.m. and then proceeded to the location of the “Be Good Too.”

The Jayhawk crew reportedly rescued Doane and the three others aboard the vessel by hoisting them into the helicopter.

Doane said he was lifted into the helicopter first, followed by the rest of the crew.

“The Coast Guard guys were great,” he said.

Looking back at the ordeal Wednesday, Doane said he was never really in fear for his life.

“We never felt in imminent danger,” he said.

Despite never having needed to be rescued before, Doane said the situation was much less harrowing than it would appear.

Sadly, Doane said the abandoned boat was left to drift unmanned at sea. The vessel reportedly cost in the range of $500,000, he said.

“They had a lot invested in that boat,” Doane said of the owners. “It will probably end up sinking.”

Video footage of rescue

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Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Jan 28, 2014 02:56 PM

See report: Abandonment of cat Be Good Too: The personal account at www.Sail-World.com

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