Offshore supply vessel rescues distressed sailor in Vermilion Bay

The following is the text of a press release issued by the U.S. Coast Guard:
(NEW ORLEANS) — The Coast Guard suspended search efforts after a mariner who was reported missing while on a sailing trip between Houston and Ocean Springs, Miss., was found Tuesday.
After encountering a storm on his sailing trip, Josiah Victor Hoffman, 52, noticed his rudder was inoperable. He anchored his vessel off the coast of Marsh Island, La., in Vermilion Bay.
Watchstanders at the Eighth Coast Guard District command center received an overdue vessel report from Hoffman’s wife at approximately 12:45 p.m., Monday, reporting that her husband did not return to port when expected. Hoffman became overdue from a sailing trip after he departed from Houston on Jan. 3, 2011, en route to Ocean Springs.
The initial search area consisted of a majority of the Gulf of Mexico. After interviews with Hoffman’s wife and his friend, the Coast Guard watchstanders determined a much smaller, more manageable search area, approximately the size of Maryland.
Additionally, the Coast Guard issued an Urgent Marine Information Broadcast (UMIB) for mariners to keep a sharp look out in the area.
On Tuesday, Hoffman made contact with the offshore supply vessel, Cajun Courage, via VHF radio. The crew of the OSV picked him up and contacted the Coast Guard.
Watchstanders at the Eighth Coast Guard District command center contacted the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office for assistance. The sheriffs launched their vessel and towed Hoffman and his sailing vessel into Grand Isle, La.
The Coast Guard urges all mariners to file a float plan with a family member or their local marina, which is a life-saving device on paper that helps first responders locate persons in distress.
“Mr. Hoffman followed some simple, yet effective, safe boating practices that could have resulted in the difference between life and death,” said Lt. Ryan Baxter, a search and rescue coordinator at the Eighth Coast Guard District command center. “First, he filed a float plan with his wife which provided us vital information regarding when he left, where he was going and a description of his boat, all of which aided rescuers in expediting and focusing their efforts. Secondly, he had a functioning marine-band radio on board which he used to communicate distress while on the water. They are much more reliable than cell phones. Without these two safety measures in place, things could have worked out much differently for him.”
By Professional Mariner Staff