Thursday, April 16, 2015

s/v Seaquel Rescue

Talked to Bill (KI4MMZ) this morning. He took a Mayday call from the s/v Seaquel (Andy and Sandy) last night. They were heading from Antigua to Florida. Ninety (90) miles off Puerto Rico the stuffing box failed and the boat started to flood. Communications were bad so Bill woke up Fred (W3ZU) who was better able to establish communications until apparently Andy passed out. They (Bill and Fred) contacted the US Coast Guard. The Coast Guard (we presume) used AMVER and dispatched the Disney Fantasy to assist.The Fantasy reported 45 knot winds and was apparently able to locate the Seaquel. Bill reported that Andy was hurt with a head injury and had passed out. The USCG used the down "vertical elevator" to put a medic on board. The plan is to sail the boat to Puerto Rico unless Andy gets worse in which case they will medevac him off the boat.

A couple of notes:

  • Apparently Sandy did not know how to run the SSB radio. It never ceases to amaze me that couples go offshore cruising and one partner has no idea how to get help in an emergency. There are numerous cases of people dying as their partner stood by not knowing how to run the radio. In fairness to Sandy I don't know if that was the case here but it sure sounds like it. (I got it wrong, she does know how to use the radio, see update below.)
  • The tradition of mutual assistance at sea is very old. As a sailor and retired Navy Captain I know that many times one is out of range of any aviation assets that can actually get one off the boat. It's the other ships that are going to come to the rescue. Based on the future sailing schedules we can guess that Fantasy was in transit from somewhere in the Caribbean to Castaway Key in the Bahamas. We can also assume that any time lost can not be made up, there are future sailings out of Port Canaveral that have to be met. So bets are that they will have to pass up Castaway Key and head directly to Canaveral. With a maximum of 4,000 passengers on board I bet that there are more than a few who are livid with rage that they have been inconvenienced. 
Fair winds and following seas :)

UPDATE 4/17: Bill (WA6CCA) spoke to Sally (not Sandy) on the telephone last night. He reports that Andy's injuries were "not serious" and that s/v Seaquel was underway to Puerto Rico. He also mentioned that both Andy and Sally are ham radio operators and Sally frequently is the operator. Given my statement above I apologize to Sally for my comment. According to the Marine Traffic AIS web site they have arrived in Boqueron, Puerto Rico.

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