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Now let's switch gears from emergency beacon technology to what it's like to actually use one. Picture yourself as the professional skipper/manager of a beautifully-built 2008 Atlantic 57 sailing cat well along on a recent delivery from the Chesapeake to St. Martin. You're in t-shirt-and-shorts-at-night weather now, though blustery, and during your evening watch you've depowered the sail plan a bit more so that a mate can finish making dinner. But suddenly roaring out of the dark comes what was likely a tornadic waterspout that lifts and flips the whole catamaran so quickly you don't even have time to reach the autopilot standby control, leaving the three of you to deal with an instantly upside-down world of water-filled main cabin, escape hatches, ditch bags and worry. Finally put yourself on the cat's slippery bottom in the USCG thermal video (though of course its very existence is very good news).
The EPIRB signal was quickly picked up and a US Coast Guard C-130 aircraft dispatched within a few hours of capsize to locate the distress call. Once Leopard was located, a nearby ship, the M/V Aloe, was directed to pick up the crew. This is a very difficult and potentially dangerous maneuver and was handled expertly by Captain Allegre and his crew. All of us are incredibly grateful for their capable assistance.
If it weren't for good preparation and what sounds like a sterling level of calm in duress, I'm not sure that the crew of Leopard would have enjoyed the results of their EPIRB and the responding USCG aircraft that worked the rescue with a fairly nearby freighter. And I might never again have heard the cheery voice of the skipper Charles Nethersole (who enjoys summers in Camden between boating jobs).
Thank you ACR!
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