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7/13/2004

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Contact: Scott Croft, 703-461-2864, SCroft@BoatUS.com
Date: July 13, 2004

BoatU.S. Foundation Emergency Rescue Beacon Program
Saves Three Off Cape Hatteras, NC

An EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon) from the BoatU.S. Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water’s EPIRB Rental Program has once again helped save the lives of recreational boaters. The latest incident involved three sailors who abandoned their disabled 30-foot sloop 120 miles off the coast of Cape Hatteras, NC.

On the evening of Monday, June 28, around 9:30 pm, a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter crew from Elizabeth City, North Carolina, safely rescued the vessel’s owner and captain, Bob Seay and crewmembers Bruce Serinis and Brad Howard after a tumultuous two days of vessel and engine failures and increasingly dangerous seas.

The incident began on Wednesday, June 23 when Seay’s Perfect Day left Bermuda to return to Annapolis, MD after having competed in the Annapolis to Bermuda race. By Saturday, an initial forecast for light winds had deteriorated to 35 knots and 15-foot seas. Perfect Day began to founder as its mast became loose and its engine failed. Dead in the water, Seay activated the BoatU.S. EPIRB.

Although unable to sail, Seay and his crew used their remaining fuel to sidle up to the 900-foot, 65,000-ton tanker Gulf Grace which the Coast Guard had vectored to Perfect Day’s location for a fuel drop. The Gulf Grace lowered fuel – along with ice cream and cigarettes. “None of us smoked,” Seay said with a grin, “But the Grace’s crew wouldn’t have it any other way.”

With calm seas, Seay, Serinis and Howard repaired the mast. But their luck would soon run out as the Coast Guard – constantly monitoring the situation – notified them that gale force winds would soon be upon Perfect Day. Trying to lessen the impact, the boat turned south on Sunday rigged in full storm mode – all gear was checked and rechecked and everything made secure. “My safety at seas classes really helped me prepare,” said Seay. By noon on Monday winds were back up to 30 knots and seas were building past 12 feet. That’s when the engine’s alternator failed, the mast became loose again, and a leak developed in the hull-to-deck joint near the bow allowing seawater to enter the boat.

At this point the three agreed that it was time to activate the EPIRB again and call the Coast Guard. Crewmember Serinis, a retired USCG Search and Rescue crewman, said that in all his years in the service, he had “Never pulled anyone off a boat in any situation worse than this.” A Coast Guard C-130 and rescue helicopter were dispatched. When the helo arrived, Perfect Day’s crew jumped overboard and were safely plucked from the stormy seas. Afterward, Seay said, “I thought I respected the ocean, but I didn’t. I found out what ‘weather’ really was.”

Seay was effusive in his praise for the BoatU.S. EPIRB. “I can’t thank BoatU.S. enough for having a great rental EPIRB program when I needed it. I will never go offshore without an EPIRB – it worked flawlessly. The combination of EPIRB and Satellite phone saved our lives, but the satphone didn’t always work reliably.”

“The BoatU.S. Foundation makes these $900 EPIRB life-saving devices available for $50 a week as a public service,” said Ruth Wood, president of the BoatU.S. Foundation. The program is funded by the voluntary contributions of 575,000 BoatU.S. members. For more information, call 888-663-7472 or visit http://www.BoatUS.com/foundation/epirb

The mission of the Foundation is to promote safe and environmentally sensitive boating, reduce accidents and fatalities, and increase stewardship of our water resources. The Foundation also operates the only accredited, free, online boating safety course, a free Kids Life Jacket Loaner Program, and awards grants to non-profit groups for boating safety and environmental projects.

Promoting Safe, Smart and Clean Boating for Over 20 Years.

Visit us at www.boatus.com/foundation