Survivor Club

Rescue Map

Awoken to a Fire

Name Robert Parker
Product Name Satellite2 406
Date of Rescue 05/03/2009
Saved By Coast Guard
Lives Saved 1

I was steaming alone on my boat the "Doris Jean hall" 20 nautical miles south of Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico,  and had fallen asleep. The cat had awaken me just in time see that my boat was on fire.  I quickly ran to my EPIRB and tossed it into the water. I had lost all power to the wheel house. So no maydays got out. 

The black smoke was very thick.  I also tried to put the fire out but it was a lost cause. I am not sure how I was able to do it but I tossed the raft off the house into the water. It was about 8 ft to make it over the rail. It was a six man raft. The heat and smoke was like nothing I had ever imagined. I then made my way to the bow of the boat grabbing the cat.

It was 2 32 AM when I got into the water. The cat went swimming back to the boat. He did not make it. At that point I did not see the raft and had no flotation device I was thinking my time was up. I remember floating on my back thinking maybe someone would see the boat burning. As the sun started coming up I saw a flashing light from the 406 EPIRB then I saw the raft in that same direction. So I swam what seemed like forever to the raft. I was so happy when I made it into raft.

Right after that my legs went into the worst cramps I have ever had. But was still so happy to have made it aboard. Then I saw a bulk ship heading my way. They stayed with me till the Coast Guard boat came and picked me up. I then found out that the EPIRB had done its thing. The Coast Guard Captain told me what time it went off. He then told me how they had talked to my father because of the contact info I given when I registered my EPIRB. He told them my last point he knew. 

Epilogue

News Release from the United States Coast Guard:


News Release
Date: May 3, 2009
Contact: District 8 Public Affairs

Coast Guard rescues survivor of vessel on fire
after receiving 406MHz EPIRB distress signal


U.S. Coast Guard 110-foot patrol boat

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Cushing rescued a man aboard a life raft Sunday morning after his vessel caught on fire, exploded and sunk 20 nautical miles south of Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico.

The survivor is a resident of Cape May, N.J., 45, who was traveling alone aboard the 71-foot wooden fishing trolley Doris Jean and was reportedly transporting farm equipment from Jacksonville, Fla. to Dominica, when he was forced to abandon his vessel due to a fire onboard. The cause of the fire remains unknown at this time.

Coast Guard Atlantic Area controllers in Portsmouth, Va. received a 406 MHz Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) distress signal from the Doris Jean Sunday morning and relayed the information to Coast Guard Sector San Juan Joint Rescue Sub Center controllers.

Sector San Juan controllers immediately launched an HH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Air Station Borinquen, diverted the Cushing to the scene and transmitted an Urgent Marine Information Broadcast (UMIB) to advise vessel traffic in the area of the ongoing distress. The crewmen aboard the tank ship Tarantella responded to the Coast Guard UMIB and reported to controllers that they could see black smoke in the vicinity of the distress. The Tarantella arrived on scene with the distressed vessel on fire and located the survivor safely aboard the Doris Jean's life raft. The Cushing arrived afterwards and safely embarked the survivor from the life raft and transported him to Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. The survivor did not require medical attention and was released upon arriving to the Port of Mayaguez.

"This was a great response due to the fact that the survivor had a 406Mhz EPIRB onboard his vessel," said Jaime Balzac, Sector San Juan controller, the distress signal transmitted by the EPIRB was received by the Coast Guard and the EPIRB had been properly registered, which allowed controllers to confirm the vessel and owner's information quickly and coordinate the rescue of the survivor."

The Coast Guard Cutter Cushing is a 110-foot patrol boat homeported in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The thing did its job very well it also is still working as the Coast Guard got it out of the water. I still have and never go off shore with out it. The thing is just as tough as nails. Thank You