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How Coast Guard rescued Tao crew, just days before Cheeki Rafiki loss

by Nancy Knudsen on 23 May 2014
The search goes on: The crew of a U.S Coast Guard Hercules set off U.S Coast Guard/Youtube
While the search for the Cheeki Rafiki goes on with dwindling hopes, in the same week another emergency had occurred with excellent results for the same First Coast Guard District. The two incidents were similar in that the crew of the stricken boat had already taken to their life raft when help arrived and they were similarly remotely distanced from shore.

The Coast Guard coordinated a rescue of the three sailors approximately 1,200 miles east of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, at approximately 2 p.m., Thursday, using the same methods as they used with Cheeki Rafiki and with all other rescues.

Watchstanders from the first Coast Guard District command center in Boston were notified at approximately 6 a.m., Thursday, of a 406MHz emergency position indicating radio beacon signal registered to the 42-foot French-flagged sailing vessel Tao with three men aboard.

A Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, North Carolina, HC-130 Hercules aircraft crew currently deployed to St. John's, Newfoundland, immediately launched to locate the Tao.

Three Frenchmen were reported aboard, one age 72 and two age 79.

The district command center watchstanders also contacted available vessels in the area to assist. Crews from the 500-foot Maine Maritime Academy training ship State of Maine, the motor vessel Mol Maxim and the Spanish-flagged fishing vessel Robero diverted to assist.

The Hercules crew arrived on scene at approximately 11 a.m. and dropped marking flares, a life raft and radio to the Tao's crew. The men abandoned the sailing vessel and entered the life raft. The Tao was taking on water and capsizing.

The Robero arrived on scene at approximately 2 p.m. and safely rescued the sailors from the life raft. They were reported to be wearing lifejackets.

'This rescue demonstrates the strong bond between mariners on the open ocean,' said Petty Officer first Class Joaquin Alayola, a search and rescue coordinator at the first Coast Guard District command center. 'The Robero's crew proved that mariners from any nation can unite to help save lives in a distress situation.'

It was a good new story all round, and bears being remembered while hope fades for the crew of the Cheeki Rafiki
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