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Coast Guard rescues three Alameda-bound sailors

Submitted by on 1, July 5, 2010 – 4:50 amNo Comment

The Coast Guard rescued a trio of Alameda-bound sailors Saturday whose 32-foot catamaran capsized en route from Crescent City, 20 miles off the coast of Fort Bragg.

The crew of the catamaran, Calypso, were taken to an area hospital to be treated for hypothermia after the Coast Guard found them clinging to the hull of the overturned vessel as it was being battered by steep waves. None of the crew members were wearing life jackets or survival suits.

The crew told rescuers that they activated their emergency position indicating radio beacon after winds increased to 45 knots, or about 52 miles per hour. Shortly after they activated their beacon, their boat capsized. The crew was pinned under the hull of the boat but managed to escape, Coast Guard Lt. Todd Vorenkamp said. He said they were in the frigid Pacific Ocean for over an hour as rescuers battled high winds to reach them.

The Coast Guard unit Group Humboldt Bay received at alert from the beacon at 12:44 p.m. Saturday and sent a 47-foot motor lifeboat and a helicopter to rescue the sailors. The helicopter ferried the sailors to Ukiah Airport, where transport vehicles waited to take them to a local hospital.

The Coast Guard said the crew filed a float plan with family members who were offered as emergency contacts when the crew’s emergency distress signal came through. The float plan lays out who’s on the vessel and the safety equipment on board, its departure and destination points and an estimated time of arrival.

The Coast Guard also credited the crew with staying with the Calypso – making it easier to find them – and for activating their on-board beacon, which beams the boat’s position to a satellite that then relays it to the Coast Guard. But they reminded sailors to keep emergency equipment like life jackets, flares and a VHF radio on board.

“If you ever wanted to hear a story about how important it is to have a registered (emergency beacon) on your vessel and a float plan ashore, look no further than this case. Without that piece of electronic gear aboard the Calypso, this would be the story of a maritime disaster, not a story with a happy ending,” Vorenkamp said.

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