Catamaran Capsized – 3 saved by EPIRB & USCG

July 9, 2010

Rescue Swimmer Lowered to 3 on Capsized Catamaran

Catamaran Capsized – 3 saved by EPIRB & USCG

The USCG Group Humbolt Bay rescued 3 from the 32-foot catamaran, Cataylist on Saturday July 3rd, 2010. The vessel was transiting from Crescent City to Alameda, California, when it encountered rough sea conditions as reported in D11.USCGNews.com.

The crew activated the EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon) in stormy seas, just minutes before a set of massive waves capsized the vessel, with 50 knot winds and 20 foot + waves knocked the boat completely upside down, pinning all three underneath.

Once the EPIRB was activated, the USCG used the registration information from the beacon to contact the family of the vessel’s crew. The crew had left a float plan with the family. The float plan information included a description of the boat, number of passengers aboard, a description of the safety equipment aboard, destination and estimated time of arrival.

“The float plan allowed us to confirm information about the vessel, create a better plan and expedite our search,” said Lt. George Suchanek, an MH-65C Dolphin helicopter pilot that responded to the call.

After escaping the overturned vessel, the three crew members were clinging to the hull while in the frigid Pacific waters 20 miles off Fort Bragg on the Northern California coast. The US Coast Guard helicopter was able to home in on the signal given by the EPIRB and retrieve the crew with the help of a rescue swimmer, hoisting them aboard the helicopter. All three sailors were showing signs of hypothermia.

EPIRBs & Personal Locators

“That EPIRB saved their lives,” stated USCG Lt. George Suchanek.

PLB’s (Personal Locator Beacons) and EPIRB’s (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon) offer a measure of safety when all else has gone wrong. The ability to be found alive and fast can make the difference between life or death when in the cold waters of an unforgiving storm.

An EPIRB‘s signal can be turned on in an emergency to transmit the GPS position and identity of the vessel along with other information to a network of satellites orbiting the earth. The USCG monitors all EPIRB activations.

For the full length Video’s from the USCG, see below.

Video-Coast Guard Group Humboldt Bay units rescue three from overturned sailboat

Video-Coast Guard Group Humboldt Bay units rescue three from overturned sailboat part 2

4 Responses to “Catamaran Capsized – 3 saved by EPIRB & USCG”

  1. hunterwaters Says:

    Good thing they had an EPIRB – any idea on how prevalent these are boats?

    • sailorf21 Says:

      EPIRB’s have been around for 2 decades. They are on all commercial vessels that operate offshore. Many, perhaps as high as 80% of all boats operating at 20+ miles offshore and doing long distance cruising will have at least one EPIRB on board (often a secon in their liferaft or abandon ship bag). EPIRB’s have become steadily more common on boats as the price has dropped and availability has increased.

  2. aquaticnav Says:

    I am a radio safety surveyor for numerous class societies and governments. With all the electronics available to our sailors there is nothing else that is as important as a Class I EPIRB. If your life is worth $600, then spend the money and very little time to install it on your vessel. It doesn’t matter if you are 1 mile or a 1000 miles offshore. When your vessel is in trouble the EPIRB is a last resort to safety of life at sea.

    • sailorf21 Says:

      I would agree; up to a point. The EPIRB is a backup when all else goes wrong.

      It is vital to collect as much experience, knowledge, skills and understanding about the vessel that you are in, the ocean (or lake), the weather and yourself before venturing far from shore.

      On the day that everything goes wrong, no single piece of equipment (perhaps after a PFD) may mean the difference between surviving the ordeal or becoming a statistic. The EPIRB has changed the context of search and rescue.

      The EPIRB debate rages on in the boating community. An EPIRB used in an emergency can save lives. An EPIRB is not a cushion of safety that replaces seamanship or a well founded vessel.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: