U.S. Coast Guard crews participated in a heartbreaking rescue of two people stranded on an apathetic boat that was caught in high winds and rough seas off Key West during Tropical Storm Sally this weekend.
The storm turned into a hurricane after leaving the Keys, with its sites located on the Gulf Coast.
During the operation, a Coast Guard lifeguard who was submerged into the water from a helicopter struggled in rough seas to reach the ship for so long that the helicopter had to return to Miami because he was running out of fuel, according to a Coast Guard press release.
The action began around 6:30 p.m. on Sunday evening west of Ponce de Leon Bay off Key West when sailors called the Key West Coast Guard area to report that their engine had failed and that they were at risk. to capsize.
In addition to the crew of the MH-65 helicopter, the Coast Guard also sent the Cutter Raymond Evans.
After the helicopter returned to Air Station Miami, the lifeguard swimmer remained in the water trying to get to the sailboat, according to the press release.
A plane was dispatched from Miami to rescue the swimmer, but he continued to struggle to get to the ship in 6 to 10 foot seas, with winds blowing at 35 mph, according to the press release.
The cutter launched a small boat crew, which picked up the lifeguard swimmer early Sunday morning, then the two people aboard the sailboat.
The press release said the boat owners had hired a towing company to recover the vessel.
“The weather in Florida during the hurricane season is unpredictable,” Petty Officer 3rd Class Steven Evens said in a statement. “It’s important for mariners to check the weather before going out on the water, whether it’s a day trip or longer.