November 15, 2010…Cruising Rally Association (CRA), Hampton, VA…Steve Black, owner of Cruising Rally Association, announced today that crew member, Laura Zekoll from Atlanta, GA is the subject of a search and rescue mission by the US Coast Guard and the Bahamian Defense Force.
The news of the search was received by CRA mid-day on Sunday, November 14, 2010 from boat owner, Richard Ross. The emergency contact information for Laura Zekoll, was communicated to the Coast Guard who notified her contact that a search was in process. The notice of the search was shared with the fleet on Monday morning, during the radio check-in at 07:00 hours AST (Atlantic Standard Time).
The owners of sailing vessel Rule 62, Richard and Debra Ross, also from Atlanta, GA, communicated earlier that they had made a decision to leave the fleet and divert to the Bahamas. During the radio check-in on Saturday at 19:00 hours AST, Richard reported a position near the Bahamas. According to the satellite transponder provided by the CRA to each vessel in the fleet, Rule 62 had stopped moving when the transponder reported at 20:56 hours AST Saturday, November 13.
Black said, “with great sadness, we report that Rule 62, a Jeanneau 46DS, was swamped while attempting entry into the Bahamas. Richard and crew Laura Zekoll were washed overboard and recovered. The life raft was launched. Richard, Debra, Laura, and a fourth crew member, David Sheppard from Ellsworth, Maine entered the life raft with life jackets on and attempted to row it to safety. The life raft subsequently overturned in swells. Richard, Debra, and David were separated from Laura and washed up on the beach. The search for Laura Zekoll is still continuing.”
The boat is currently on a reef in the Bahamas. Richard and Debra Ross and Sheppard were airlifted to safety after their emergency signal was received by the Coast Guard.