Coast Guard makes dramatic rescue after rogue wave wrecks sailboat
Video footage showed rescuers battling rough seas and blustery winds to pull the four-man crew to safety after a long journey almost turned to tragedy.
A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter crew rescued four men from a sailboat that became disabled due to rough sea conditions.
A four-man sailing crew injured and suffering from near hypothermia out in the Atlantic Ocean had to be rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard after a “rogue wave” thrashed and tossed about their 39-foot sailboat off the coast of eastern Long Island.
Dramatic video shows a Coast Guard rescue team hoisting the stranded boaters up and into a helicopter over rough waters about 100 miles south of Montauk, Long Island, on Sunday, May 8.
The huge rogue wave had toppled the vessel's mast, injuring the crew members, officials with the Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod told AccuWeather.
The men were sailing from the U.S. Virgin Islands bound for Connecticut when they encountered the “heavy sea conditions,” the Coast Guard said.
Their sailboat, named the Calypso, was left in tatters by the strong rogue wave. Such "rogue waves" occur when a wave is proportionally larger than those around it in a given area of the ocean. They occur in open water and grow more than double the height of neighboring waves.
The damaged sailing vessel Calypso is left stranded in the Atlantic Ocean after a rogue wave on Sunday, May 8, 2022, about 100 miles south of the Long Island Sound. The U.S. Coast Guard rescued the four crew members, who suffered injuries. (U.S. Coast Guard)
The crewmembers were also close to “experiencing symptoms of hypothermia," said Petty Officer Emma Fliszar, with the Boston-based Coast Guard First District.
She described the sea conditions at the time as treacherous with 16- to 17-foot waves and nearly 40-mph winds. The air and water temperature were 47 degrees Fahrenheit.
The rough conditions were caused by a large weather system that had remained stalled off the Atlantic coast since the early weekend, according to AccuWeather meteorologists. The storm brought stiff winds and rough surf with it prior to shifting south later in the week.
The Calypso and its crew were left drifting in the vast ocean, with little means of communication. They were only able to send out calls for help via text and an EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon).
It apparently worked and the Coast Guard was dispatched around 4 p.m., Sunday after receiving an emergency call for a sailing vessel in distress, Officer Fliszar said.
As with many Coast Guard missions, this rescue effort proved challenging as the team battled the heavy sea and blustery wind while trying to airlift the sailors from their boat, even as darkness fell. Such "heavy weather” conditions, she noted, are enough for the Coast Guard to take extra precautionary measures.
In all, the rescue team and crew endured five grueling hours to get safely off the boat and back on land.
With the evacuation complete, one of the rescue swimmers can be seen at the end of the video giving a wave and a smile as he’s lifted back up into the copter.
The men were then flown to Gabreski, New York, on Long Island, where they were transported to an area hospital with a “higher level of care” for further evaluation, the Coast Guard said. All four were doing fine.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The Coast Guard reported the boat was sailing from Bermuda, but a source told AccuWeather that the voyage began in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
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