MIAMI — Coast Guard crews rescued two people from their sailing vessel, Preston Point, Sunday, after they were in distress about 14 miles west of Ponce de Leon Bay off Key West, Florida, during Tropical Storm Sally.
The sailing vessel Preston Point owners called Coast Guard Sector Key West watchstanders at approximately 6:30 p.m, Saturday, stating the vessel’s engine was disabled; they were adrift and in danger of capsizing. The watchstanders directed the launch of an Air Station Miami MH-65 Dolphin helicopter rescue crew and diverted the Cutter Raymond Evans crew to transit to the scene.
Once the Dolphin helicopter aircrew arrived on scene, the rescue swimmer was lowered in 6-10 foot seas and 35 mph winds, gusting to 23 mph. The rescue swimmer attempted to swim to the sailing vessel, but due to the seas and the drift of the vessel, the rescue swimmer was unable to reach the vessel.
The helicopter aircrew was unable to stay on location due to getting low on fuel. An Air Station Miami HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircrew was launched to provide assistance to the rescue swimmer who was still on scene attempting to swim to the Preston Point’s location, but due to Tropical Storm Sally, the rescue swimmer could not reach the vessel.
A Coast Guard Cutter Raymond Evans small boat crew located the rescue swimmer and brought him aboard the cutter in good health. The small boat crew then embarked the two people from the sailboat also in good health.
“Florida weather during hurricane season is unpredictable,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Steven Evans, watchstander, Sector Key West command center. “It is important that mariners check the weather before going out on the water, whether it’s a day trip or longer.”
The owners are working with a commercial towing service to recover their sailboat.
We remind mariners to check the weather before going out, tell someone where you are going and when you’ll be back, wear a life jacket, ensure your safety gear is up to date, and have a registered emergency position indicator radio beacon onboard.