Yacht Sinks Near Puerto Rico

December 16, 2019

Yachting Journal

A US Coast Guard helicopter crew rescued four men from a life raft on December 15, 2019 after they were forced to abandon the 80-foot sinking yacht, Clam Chowder, approximately 25 nautical miles northwest of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

Four men forced to abandon their sinking motor yacht have been rescued approximately 25 nautical miles northwest of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, the US. Coast Guard said.

At 5:22 a.m. Sunday, watchstanders at Sector San Juan received a VHF radio Channel 16 distress call from the 80-foot yacht Clam Chowder, reporting the vessel’s stern was mostly under water. Despite having multiple pumps energized, the crew of four U.S. citizens from Boston and Florida, said to be the only people aboard at the time of the incident, could not keep up with the flooding. The Clam Chowder additionally reported losing power and listing to starboard at which point the Captain ordered the crew to abandon the vessel.

Watchstanders directed the launch of an Air Station Borinquen MH-65 Dolphin helicopter and diverted the fast response cutter Robert Yered (WPC-1104) to search for and rescue the boaters. Watchstanders also issued an Urgent Marine Information Broadcast UMIB to alert marine traffic in the area. The Malta-flagged 680-feet container ship Calais Trader received the UMIB and remained on scene during the rescue monitoring the situation and ready to provide rescue assistance.

The Coast Guard helicopter arrived on scene and located all four men safely aboard the life raft. The Coast Guard aircrew completed multiple hoists using a rescue basket to bring the survivors safely aboard the aircraft. One of the survivors reportedly severed his finger while releasing the life raft from the Clam Chowder.

The survivors were transported to Air Station Borinquen where they were transferred to awaiting Customs and Border Protection and Emergency Medical Service personnel, the Coast Guard said.

“This rescue highlights the importance of having proper survival gear and the thorough preparation by the crew of the Clam Chowder,” said, Lt. Carlos Gonzalez, MH-65 Dolphin helicopter co-pilot for the case. “Having lifejackets, VHF radios and a raft helped save four lives today.”

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