A solo voyager in the Pacific and four sailors in the Atlantic (see video below) recently received help from the Coast Guard and the excellent Automated Mutual-Assistance Vessel Rescue System (AMVER). Participating AMVER commercial ships can be called on by the Coast Guard to pick up voyagers in distress in cases where the incident is too far at sea for Coast Guard helicopters to reach. AMVER ship owners and captains agree to divert from their courses to pick up mariners in distress — no matter whether they are commercial or recreational mariners. This upholding of the tradition of mutual assistance at sea is a great thing for voyaging sailors. They can rely on the big guys to give them a ride home should that be necessary. Provided, of course, there is a ship reasonably close. There aren't many AMVER ships in the Southern Ocean, for example.
— Ocean Navigator (@OceanNavMag) May 15, 2013
Mutual assistance is the idea, but it probably wouldn't work too well going the other way, however. It would be difficult for a couple of voyaging sailors to take a ship's crew of 15 or so on board their 36-foot sailboat. We hope that if the situation called for it, though, that the voyaging sailors would do their utmost to support the AMVER ships that so often conduct rescues on their behalf.