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March 28, 2003-- A rented EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon) from the BoatU.S. Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water’s EPIRB Rental Program contributed to the safe return early this morning of a 42’ sailing vessel stricken with mechanical difficulties during gale-force weather off the Florida coast.

With five aboard, the 42-foot sloop PatentColorado.com was 15 miles into a 42-mile Miami to Bimini crossing yesterday when a tornado-laden weather front struck the vessel. Forced to drop sail and start motoring, the vessel tossed in heavy seas killing the engine. Clogged fuel filters were suspected.

“Things went from bad to worse quickly,” said BoatU.S. member and skipper, Rick Martin. “With a change in wind direction, temperatures dropped 10 degrees, visibility went to zero in minutes, the seas turned nasty and three crew rapidly fell ill to seasickness,” said Martin. Electrical problems also began to effect the boat.

With no engine and an uncontrollable vessel in dangerous seas, Martin raised the U.S. Coast Guard on his VHF radio. When he was unable provide GPS coordinates, the Coast Guard asked him to activate the EPIRB. Activation allowed rescuers to easily locate the vessel and arrive on scene. It was later towed safely to harbor by a private tower. Back at the docks this morning, Martin commented, “The BoatU.S. EPIRB helped save the day.”

“The BoatU.S. Foundation makes these $900 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 535,000 members of BoatU.S. 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