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RickQuann 05-18-2008 06:57 PM

Coast Guard rescues 2 in Chesapeake Bay
I heard this on the Jeep radio last night.

From the Coast Guard News:

BALTIMORE - The Coast Guard rescued two injured mariners today in the Chesapeake Bay after they used Morse code to indicate their distress to a passing ship.
Coast Guard Sector Baltimore watchstanders received a call from Capt. Bruce McLaughlin, a Maryland pilot helping the M/V Afhrodite Leader during its outbound transit, stating that he noticed a sailboat signaling S.O.S. four miles east of the Patuxent River in the Chesapeake Bay. Coast Guard launched a 25-foot response boat crew from Station St. Inigoes, Md., to the area and found a sailboat with two people aboard.
Albert Labos, 62, and Theresa Labos, 64, were transiting from Annapolis, Md., to their home in England when both mariners had reportedly suffered injuries as a result of being caught in a storm Friday night. Albert Labos’ reportedly suffered injuries to his hands and Theresa Labos’ reportedly suffered injuries to her ribs. Additionally, the storm damaged their mast, which disabled their radio so they were unable to call for help. Mr. Labos shot flares off through the night with no result. “It’s recognizable that Mr. Labos was aware enough to look through his injuries and be able to use another one of the internationally recognized distress signals after he ran out of flares,” said Scott Winslow, a search and rescue coordinator with Coast Guard Sector Baltimore. Mr. Labos used a flashlight to signal the passing Afhrodite Leader.
Crewmembers from the Coast Guard response boat were able to get the couple off their vessel and take them to the Md. Rt. 4 Bridge near Solomon’s Island where they were met by local EMS and taken to St. Mary Hospital.
The sailboat was anchored and will be towed by Tow Boat U.S. later today. The vessel does not pose a hazard to navigation.
The Coast Guard urges mariners to carry signaling devices such as flares, mirrors and whistles onboard their vessels. Signaling devices may help improve your chances of being rescued in the event of an emergency on the water.

JohnRPollard 05-18-2008 07:38 PM


Interesting, thanks for the news.

The couple must have a fairly serious boat if they were headed to England from Annapolis. This incident reminds me of an interview I read years ago with a circumnavigator from England (his boat -- a Valiant 42). He said the worst weather conditions he experienced on the entire trip were in the Chesapeake Bay.

Normally a relatively benign place, but sometimes the Bay can kick you in the butt. Glad they're okay and I hope they can recover quickly and resume their voyage.

retclt 05-18-2008 07:50 PM

Note to self:

Carry more than the recommended (or required) amount of safety equipment.

Glad they're okay!

Freesail99 05-18-2008 07:57 PM

Just one more reason to save your out dated flairs. One of the sailing magazines did a test on out dated flairs and they all fired. Mind you in no way am I saying you shouldn't also carry current up to date flairs.

sailingdog 05-18-2008 08:00 PM

Also a really good reason to get SOLAS grade flares, rather than USCG flares.... SOLAS grade flares are brighter, burn longer, and in the case of aerial flares, they fly higher. :)

btrayfors 05-18-2008 10:16 PM


Thanks for the post.

The Chesapeake Bay, indeed, can be ferocious due to the extremely steep seas which build over shallow water, and to currents from the larger tributaries such as the Potomac and the Patuxent Rivers, combined with the normal tidal flows.

On Friday, the weather was pretty good up to 4:30PM in the vicinity of Pt. Lookout. Then, at 4:40PM, buoy # 44042 recorded a doubling of the wind gusts, rising to about 32 knots from the previous 14 knots. NW winds remained strong right through Friday evening and until about 2AM on Saturday, when they dropped back to reasonable sailing speeds.

Winds above 30 knots running against a tidal current (the low at Pt. Lookout was just about 4:42PM, the time of the wind increase, so currents soon began running against the NW wind) can spawn very nasty short seas. If you haven't been there, it's hard to imagine how bone-jarring they can be and how quickly they form after a wind increase and an adverse current.

Glad the English couple apparently didn't suffer any really serious injuries, and apparently they and their boat are OK.


eMKay 05-18-2008 10:32 PM

Well, here's to hoping they get their boat fixed, heal up, and complete their journey.

AlanBrown 05-19-2008 08:44 AM

I would think that anyone planning an ocean passage would include an EPIRB as part of their safety equipment. Also, having a hand-held vhf radio aboard could prove very valuable in the case of power loss or antenna damage. I have both of these aboard Intuition and I don't plan to cross any oceans.

I'm sure that sending SOS signals by flashlight is not the way most of us would wish to summon help in an emergency. Thank goodness there was someone to see the flashes.

MIKEMCKEE 05-19-2008 08:45 AM

With a boat that's going to make the trip to England, I would think they would have had a hand held VHF, just in case. I bet they will consider it in the future.
I like to have one on channel 16 in the cockpit, since I really can't hear mine from the chart table.
Best wishes and smooth sailing to the couple going to England.

s/c Blue Bayou

chucklesR 05-19-2008 09:53 AM

A good reminder for all of us out there to pay attention to what's going on around us too. I'm betting he fired flares when he saw moving boat lights, not just at random. Surely someone saw his flares and just didn't do anything.

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