The U.S. Coast Guard coordinated the rescue of a solo sailor in distress more than 990 miles west of the Columbia River by successfully requesting assistance from the 1,098-foot container ship Oocl Utah.
Watchstanders at the Coast Guard 13th District Command Center received a distress hail from the solo sailor in question who was operating the 37-foot sailing vessel Sea Sweeper. Apparently, weather had torn the skipper’s sails on the vessel’s lower mast, he was having issues with his engine and batteries, and he was running low on potable water. The skipper was also battling 30-knot winds and eight-foot seas, and to make matters worse, he didn’t have the proper safety equipment such as a liferaft or emergency beacon aboard.
The Automated Mutual-Assistance Vessel Rescue System (AMVER) was activated due to the sailor’s lack of proper safety equipment and the vessel’s distance from shore. AMVER calls upon Good Samaritan vessels to respond to crises near them, and this rescue was a textbook success. Oocl Utah responded to the call and, at the time of this writing, has the sailor safely aboard while the container ship is en route to its next port of call of Busan, South Korea. Perhaps the skipper will take the long transit as a chance to reflect on some safety lessons learned the hard way.