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6/1/2005

BoatU.S. Rental EPIRBs Save Crew On Two Vessels Stricken In Gulf
Storm Batters Regatta Racers

On May 1st and 2nd two sailing vessels in the Regatta Del Sol race from St. Petersburg FL to Isla Mujeres, Mexico were battered by stormy weather forcing crews to abandon the race and activate emergency rescue beacons provided by the BoatU.S. Foundation’s EPIRB Rental Program. As a public service, the BoatU.S. Foundation makes these $900 life-saving devices available for $50 a week.

On Sunday evening May 1st around 9 PM the crew of the S/V Luan Two activated their emergency position indicating rescue beacon (EPIRB) over 150 miles from shore after spending two days battling high winds and seas in an increasingly compromised vessel. The stormy weather had progressively blown out the Gulfstar 36-foot sloop’s collection of sails leaving the vessel under engine power alone. However, while the vessel’s fuel system had been inspected prior to the race, the agitated seas dislodged rust particles that progressively clogged each of the five spare fuel filters the crew had brought aboard.

With no sail power, damaged steering, nearly dead batteries and after numerous jury-rig attempts failed to restart the engine, crewmembers made the decision to notify authorities via an automatic mayday alert via the sailboat’s DSC-VHF radio. Luan Two successfully made radio contact with a nearby sailing crew aboard China Doll, but after an attempt to use flares failed to assist China Doll in locating Luan Two, the BoatU.S. rental EPIRB was activated.

“The captain and his crew of Luan Two did everything right,” said David Carter, manager of the BoatU.S. EPIRB Rental Program. “It was only after they had completely exhausted all other means of self-rescue did they use the EPIRB,” he added.

In the second case, the captain of the S/V Maltese Kross, a CSY 37 cutter, became gravely ill after experiencing the stormy seas. Seasick, dehydrated, hallucinating and suffering heart problems, the crew decided to abort the race on May 2 and notified the Coast Guard of the need for evacuation. After the BoatU.S. rental EPIRB was activated, a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter was sent to the scene and safely removed the sick sailor.

“Planning and equipping your vessel for any eventuality is something offshore boaters must do, and a serviceable EPIRB should be the last item checked off the preparation list,” said Carter. “In these cases our rental EPIRBs contributed to potentially saving the lives of ten crew members.”

The EPIRB Rental Program is funded by the voluntary contributions of 590,000 BoatU.S. members. For more information, call 888-663-7472 or visit http://www.BoatUS.com/foundation/epirb.

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