Falmouth Coastguard were involved in three unusual incidents in May – organising help for a group of starving islanders in the South Pacific, the rescue of a family whose yacht had hit an iceberg in the South Atlantic, and the evacuation of an injured crewman from a yacht nearly 1,000 miles from the Azores.
A British yachtsman Alex Bond, from Penryn, near Falmouth, and a crew of three were delivering a yacht from Hawaii to Australia, and decided to stop off on the way at Kanton Island, an atoll half-way between Hawaii and Fiji. It is part of the Phoenix Islands group in the republic of Kiribati
. Mr Bond said that when the yacht arrived, the crew were met by the desperate and starving islanders who had not been delivered any supplies for months as the supply ship was stuck at a nearby island. They had been living off just coconuts and any fish that they could catch for months.
Mr Bond contacted Falmouth Coastguard by his satellite phone to request help for the islanders. Falmouth Coastguard contacted the US Coast Guard and the authorities in Hawaii to make arrangements to drop supplies to the islanders.
On May 7, Falmouth Coastguard had been alerted by an emergency position indicating radio beacon to the plight of a couple and their two teenage daughters after their yacht hit a low lying iceberg. The Coastguard picked up the position as 285 miles northeast of South Georgia and contacted the Falkland Island authorities.
On May 7, John Rossiter, Falmouth Coastguard watch manager said: “The Falkland Island authorities spoke to the couple on their satellite phone. Their yacht was stable but had taken in some water and had no engine power.”
The Royal Navy Falkland Islands patrol ship Clyde was 200 miles south of the yacht and arrived to rescue the family on May 8.
Falmouth Coastguard also assisted in the rescue of a 33-year-old injured crewman from the Cayman-flagged motor yacht Sagamar, 271 tonnes, over several days starting on May 13.
The initial call indicated to the Coastguard that the yacht was about 1,000 miles west of the Azores and that they had an urgent medical emergency aboard. An open wound on the leg of the American crewman had become dangerously infected.
A medical connect call was made with doctors at the Queen Alexandra Hospital, Portsmouth, and it became very evident that the crewman, who was the medic on board the yacht, needed treatment.
Falmouth Coastguard handed over the co-ordination of the incident to the US Coast Guard at Norfolk, Virginia, who has responsibility for search and rescue in that region, but continued to monitor developments.
More on this and other news in Sea Breezes Magazine - July 2010 Issue
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