State News

Coast Guard: Sailboats in Trouble Off N.C. Coast

Posted May 7, 2007

— A helicopter hoisted three people from a storm-tossed sailboat early Monday and a rescue chopper was dispatched to pluck three more people off a life raft after they abandoned another sailing vessel, Coast Guard officials said.

A C-130 was sent to check out two more vessels that sent distress signals as a low-pressure system whipped the ocean with howling winds that stirred waves as high as 34 feet.

Meanwhile, the state Department of Transportation suspended most ferry service to the Outer Banks on Monday because of the choppy waters.

Three people from the sailboat "Seaker" were rescued around 7:30 a.m. after the boat was located within 50 miles of the coast in the Diamond Shoals area in 16-foot seas, said Petty Officer Christopher Evanson, a Coast Guard spokesman. Its sailors were receiving a medical evaluation at the Coast Guard air base at Elizabeth City.

Three more people from the sailboat "Lou Pantini" were in 34-foot seas on a makeshift life raft about 160 miles east of Cape Hatteras, Evanson said. Winds were estimated at 40 knots.

"They are all alive," Evanson said, adding that he didn't know what type of raft they were on but that it "wasn't your traditional life raft."

A C-130 from the air station was flying overhead while a rescue chopper flew to the scene, he said.

Two more sailing vessels reported trouble about 120 miles off Cape Hatteras and a C-130 aircraft was dispatched to see if a helicopter was needed, Evanson said.

The National Weather Service issued a wind warning for the coast, saying rough seas and high winds were expected through Wednesday.

The Currituck-Knotts Island route was suspended Sunday and could remain suspended through Tuesday because of low water, officials said. Northeast winds have pushed water out of the Currituck Sound into the Albemarle Sound.

The Ocracoke-Swan Quarter, Cedar Island-Ocracoke and Hatteras-Ocracoke routes have been suspended until the adverse weather subsides. The Bayview-Aurora, Cherry Branch-Minnesott Beach and Southport-Fort Fisher routes are running on schedule.

35 Comments

Please with your WRAL.com account to comment on this story. You also will need a Facebook account to comment.

Oldest First
View all
  • Michael Kenyon May 7, 2007

    "Darwin reject who decided that it was cool to base-jump a thousand-foot tower in the dark"

    Couldn't you have gone through the challenge of getting in position to rescue him, then just left him because he was a dumb a**?

    I know where you're coming from on the Haw thing. I'm a white water boater and we (those who think we know what we're doing) will frequently try to keep such people off the river.

  • TechRescue May 7, 2007

    Thought it might cut me off...

    Our team spent a long night in the mountains a couple of years back - made a difference. Our next call was to rescue a Darwin reject who decided that it was cool to base-jump a thousand-foot tower in the dark and got tangled on a guy wire 300 feet up. Made a difference there too, but the feeling was...different.

  • TechRescue May 7, 2007

    Ask anyone who is a member of a Rescue Team and they'll tell you that money has very little to do with it - it's the challenge and the chance to make a difference in someone's life. That having been said, it's scary how stupid people can be. Rescue teams on the Haw River fish the same people out every time it floods. Teams in the mountains hike in to find and evacuate Mr & Mrs Idiot who thought it was a great idea to try to cover 10 miles of the Appalachian Trail at 5pm on Sunday in shorts, not checking the weather or expected low temps. What the heck, get in trouble, just dial 911. Someone will come.

    However, the person hiking, boating, or flying in to save their tail is likely to be a volunteer who just burnt another day of vacation or a swimmer who realizes that sooner or later the odds are going to catch up to him or her.

    Our team spent a long night in the mountains a couple of years back - made a difference. Our next call was to rescue a Darwin reject who decided tha

  • Newshound May 7, 2007

    Regardless of what they knew about the weather or when they found out it was going to be bad. The fact remains that they almost died and were rescued. No one here i would think wishes they died(i am assuming a lot i think) For those who think they should have to pay for the services then lets say you were out driving saturday in the high winds we had here in the triangle. Sure they werent hurricane force winds but neither was the winds they had at the coast. Now lets say a tree fell in the raod directly in your path and u hit it, lose control and flip your car and get trapped inside your car and the rescue squad has to come use the jaws of life to save your life? With the logic expressed here then u would be sent a bill for their services.

  • spiritwarriorwoman May 7, 2007

    theelz1 - "spiritwomen, they should have watched the weather, they have been calling for bad winds at the coast for over a week now, they deserve the blame, it is just like theses canoe idiots that ride the rapids on the rivers that are above flood stage, they know better.."

    We don't know that they WEREN'T watching the weather. Even The Weather Channel didn't predict winds as high as we got on Sunday before they got here.

    Just seems to me that we're grasping at straws and making assumptions in order to find grist to criticize someone on.

    God bless.

    Rev. RB

  • spiritwarriorwoman May 7, 2007

    Lemmonn - How do you know these were yuppies?

    God bless.

    Rev. RB

  • grandmaj May 7, 2007

    Ok, I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, maybe they were unaware of the weather warnings, but the news is full of stories almost every day about people who put themselves in life-threatening situations and then have to be rescued at public expense (ie. taxpayers). Maybe rescue personnel should start sending a bill afterward, or maybe just charge a "stupidity fee" where each subsquent offense brings a higher fee.

  • sandlizzard12 May 7, 2007

    Another "DUH" story (stories). Just glad the safety net was close at hand.

  • Tarheelz1 May 7, 2007

    no excuses, they should not have been out there, this storm system has been developing for a week now..

  • LaLa-Land May 7, 2007

    Wonderful they are all safe! They will have a great story to tell. Yes, the USCG is there in time of crisis! Go USCG! Hey, anybody who loves the water and sailing knows things can happen QUICK!

More...