Coast Guard, Navy respond to sailboats in storm
By Lauren King
© November 7, 2013
Three sailboats issued distress alerts this afternoon as a storm that moved through Hampton Roads earlier today moved off the coast.
The Coast Guard and Navy cruiser Vella Gulf responded to the alerts, but only one of the three sailboats, more than 200 miles east of Virginia Beach, was in contact with rescuers tonight. The sailboat was taking on water and crewmembers reported feeling sick, said Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class David Weydert. Coast Guard crews reported seeing 10- to 12-foot peak waves.
About 10 p.m., the Coast Guard helicopter was refueling aboard the Vella Gulf and Weydert said the four people aboard the sailboat should be hoisted to the helicopter within the hour.
Meanwhile, a Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules airplane, which had been first on the scene about 6 p.m., was finishing its search further south and then heading back to Elizabeth City. A second C-130 was heading out to the area from Elizabeth City to continue searching for the other sailboats, Weydert said.
The search, he said, was expected to continue through the night.
The three distress alerts came in after 2 p.m. today. The two alerts from the boats more than 200 miles off Virginia Beach were received from a satellite tracking device and a third alert came from an emergency indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) further south, more than 200 miles east of Elizabeth City, according to a Coast Guard news release.
The Vella Gulf arrived at the location off Virginia Beach before 8 p.m. The Coast Guard helicopter crew arrived there about an hour later.
Weydert said a fourth sailboat later reported an injured person aboard, but no other problems. That boat was located near Ocracoke Inlet and a Coast Guard boat was sent to the area.
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