Overdue Boaters Rescued Off Coast

Shawn J. Soper
News Editor

OCEAN CITY – On what was already a busy day for the U.S. Coast Guard in the Ocean City area, two local fishermen, reported long overdue after not returning to port at the designated time, were rescued well offshore after there vessel experience engine problems.

On Tuesday, Coast Guard Station Ocean City received a call from a woman reporting her husband and a friend had left for a fishing trip around 4:15 a.m. and had still not returned. The woman told Coast Guard officials she was expecting her husband and his friend back no later than 2 p.m., but they still had not returned hours after the appointed time.

When the investigation revealed the anglers’ vehicle and trailer were still at the marina where they left them hours earlier, the Coast Guard initiated a search. Coast Guard Station Elizabeth City, N.C. launched a C-130 Hercules crew and Coast Guard Station Cape May sent a crew aboard the Coast Guard Cutter “Mako” to assist with the search.

A short time later, the giant C-130 spotted a vessel matching the description provided the wife in the ocean several miles off the coast of Ocean City. The crew also spotted two male individuals on board, but was unable to make radio contact with the fishermen. The Coast Guard cutter “Mako” was diverted to the area where the vessel was spotted and confirmed the boat and two anglers aboard were the subjects of the search.

The two men aboard told Coast Guard rescue crews on the “Mako” their vessel was overheating, which is why they could not make it back to port. The Coast Guard cutter “Mako” towed the disabled vessel and the frightened but otherwise unharmed occupants to an appointed rendezvous with a Coast Guard rescue vessel from Station Ocean City, which took over and towed the boat into Ocean City.

Coast Guard officials said in the wake of the incident on Tuesday informing friends and family members on shore of at least a general area or “float plan” can help avoid potential disasters.

“In a situation where the wife knows where the husband goes, knowing makes it easy for us to set up our search plan,” said Petty Officer-1st Class Cullen Rafferty, a Coast Guard 5th District watch stander. “Try to get as detailed as possible. Even if there is a slight chance that someone thinks they’re going to deviate from their normal spots, give that information also.”

Rafferty said the search was complicated by the lack of working radios or an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon, or EPIRB, on the disabled vessel.

 “In regards to VHF radios, everybody should have those,” he said. “What would have been more effective, especially with offshore boaters and fishermen, is an EPIRB.”