Tanker helps tow disabled sailboat to safety

The following is the text of a news release from the U.S. Coast Guard:

(HOUSTON) — A man and his disabled boat were brought to safety in Galveston on Wednesday after being towed about 300 miles through the Gulf of Mexico by a tanker, then brought to shore by the Coast Guard and a commercial towboat.

The man signaled for help to Sector Houston-Galveston watch standers using a satellite device Monday from his 40-foot trimaran, Fearless, located about 300 miles southeast of Galveston. After coordinating with Rescue Coordination Center New Orleans, the watch standers in New Orleans sent out a SafetyNET emergency broadcast for anyone in the boater's area who may be able to assist. 

SafetyNET is similar to near-shore urgent marine information broadcasts, but is used where VHF marine band radio cannot reach. The technology uses an Enhanced Group Call in Inmarsat C maritime mobile satellite systems to broadcast messages to groups of ship stations. Ships in the coverage area can receive the messages.

The captain of the tanker, Chance, diverted his course to assist, taking the trimaran in tow toward Galveston. The man had left Port Aransas on Nov. 5, en route to Key West until the rudder broke.

As the tanker neared shore Wednesday morning, a Station Galveston 45-foot response boat crew picked up the tow 16 miles out and brought him within range of commercial assistance. TowBoat US met them and assisted in the final tow to port.

"I'd like to thank the motor tanker, Chance, for responding to our SafetyNET and ensuring this mariner's safety by taking him in tow," said Kevin Robb, the search-and-rescue mission coordinator at RCC New Orleans. "There is a long tradition of mariners looking out for one another on the high seas. Motor tanker Chance's captain and crew exemplify this tradition."

By Professional Mariner Staff