Day or night, it’s a nightmare scenario. You can do your best to prepare for it, but if the deal goes down in darkness – with high winds and heavy seas to boot – the odds against a sailor can quickly mount. That’s when it’s good to know the U.S. Coast Guard has your back.
Two sailors discovered that firsthand Thursday when their boat, the 60-foot Windermere, caught fire off the coast of Rhode Island. Coast Guard watch standers received a report from Windermere at about 1830 that there was a fire in the engine room and that the boat’s firefighting system had been activated.
Luckily for the sailors, they were only two miles southwest of Point Judith, home of a Coast Guard response station. A 45-foot rescue boat was dispatched and within an hour, the pair had been pulled off their burning vessel. Both were uninjured. The Coast Guard also deployed a helicopter from Air Station Cape Cod and diverted a cutter, the 87-foot Ridley, which watched over the sailboat until salvage efforts could begin.
“The weather was against us last night,” said Coast Guard Lt. Bryan Swintek, referring to the 25-knot winds and 4-to-6-foot swells that made the responders’ job more difficult. “Our crews worked together to make sure these two got home safe even with heavy seas and winds.”