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Hanson Rescue Medal to Dan R. Mastromarco for Chesapeake Bay rescue

by John Rousmaniere on 8 Aug 2013
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US Sailing has presented a Hanson Rescue Medal to Dan R. Mastromarco of Annapolis, Md. for rescuing a swimmer from Chesapeake Bay on July 31, 2010. Mastromarco and his crew of three, with two young children sleeping in the cabin below, were sailing back to Annapolis aboard Inishowen, a Catalina 400, after an overnight sail was abbreviated due to forecasted thunderstorms and overcast conditions. While sailing in southerly winds at approximately 11:00 p.m. in gusts exceeding twenty knots, Inishowen was entering Whitehall Bay when they heard loud, shrill cries for help.

Unable to spot the victim in the dark, Mastromarco and crewmember Nicholas Provenzo shouted to the swimmer requesting that he splash in the water to improve visibility. They quickly located the swimmer and acquired a compass bearing on him. Mastromarco had his crew douse the sails and steered toward the victim under engine power. A crewmember deployed the boat’s Lifesling rescue device on a line dragged astern of Inishowen and the boat circled the victim until he grabbed the line. The boat was then stopped and the victim pulled the lifesling over his head and under his arms.

Provenzo pulled the victim to the boat, where he and Mastromarco hoisted him on deck. The man was dried off and wrapped in blankets. When he complained of cramps, the crew radioed for medical help as Mastromarco steered to his home port, where fire department personnel were waiting.

The victim told the Annapolis Capital Gazette that he had been out in his kayak without a life jacket and the kayak took on water. 'I figured I'd just swim. I swam pretty hard and realized I couldn't get anywhere. I kayak all the time. I'm a strong swimmer. I was always really confident,' he explained. He floated for several hours with his muscles cramping and jellyfish stinging him. He was passed three times that evening by power boaters by the time he saw Inishowen’s masthead tricolor light. His first thought was that a helicopter was searching for him.

'I'm just extremely happy we were in the right place at the right time,' Mastromarco said.

The Arthur B. Hanson Rescue Medal is awarded by US Sailing’s Safety-at-Sea Committee to any person who rescues or endeavors to rescue any other person from drowning, shipwreck, or other perils at sea within the territorial waters of the United States, or as part of a sailboat race or voyage that originated or stopped in the U.S. Since it was established in 1990 by friends of the late Mr. Hanson, an ocean-racing sailor from the Chesapeake Bay, the Arthur B. Hanson Rescue Medal has been presented to more than 175 boats. Any individual or organization may submit a nomination for a Hanson Rescue Medal.

For the most authoritative daylong seminar on safe seamanship, heavy weather tactics, weather forecasting, communications and boat preparation, register for an upcoming US Sailing Safety-at-Sea Seminar. Please visit the event website for details on these certification opportunities. Learn more about why you should attend or organize a US Sailing Certified Safety at Sea Seminar.
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