LITTLE EGG HARBOR – Two people were rescued by the Coast Guard Friday evening after their 33-foot sailing vessel ran aground and overturned near Little Egg Inlet, officials said.
A person aboard the boat, Free Bird, was able to contact the Coast Guard Sector Delaware Bay watchstanders at about 8 p.m. through a VHF-FM marine radio. They reported that they had grounded in shoals and began heeling over while heading south toward Atlantic City, the Coast Guard said.
An MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Atlantic City as well as rescue boat crews from Coast Guard Stations Atlantic City and Barnegat Light were sent out for the rescue.
Coast Guard responders quickly located the Free Bird and discovered it hard aground on its side in breaking surf with both people aboard. Due to the shallow waters surrounding the boat, the aircrew began hoisting the people, the Coast Guard said.
“With high winds, driving rain and thunderstorms in the area, our aircrew worked to quickly lower the rescue swimmer to help the couple,” said Lt. Humberto Hernandez, a pilot who flew on the rescue. “Our swimmer was able to walk in the shallow breaking surf to the Free Bird and assist the people away from the vessel to facilitate a safer hosting situation, away from the overturned vessel’s mast.”
Each survivor was safely hoisted into the aircraft and returned to the air station where they were met by awaiting emergency medical personnel. Both people reported no injuries and plan to salvage their boat, the Coast Guard said.
The Coast Guard reminds all mariners that having reliable communication aboard your vessel can be the difference between life and death in an emergency. “A VHF-FM marine radio is the best way to alert the Coast Guard to an emergency, especially on the water, where cell phone connectivity and weather are often unpredictable,” the Coast Guard said.