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Home-built schooner Raw Faith founders, crew rescued again

by Des Ryan. on 8 Dec 2010
George McKay, rescued again from his home-built schooner Raw Faith - photo by John Ewing Portland Press Herald .. .
Two sailors have been rescued from the three-masted schooner Raw Faith, a 118-foot, home-built yacht, which foundered approximately 100 miles southeast of Nantucket, Massachusetts. The vessel had been disabled and was reportedly taking on water.

George McKay, of Addison, the owner and skipper of the yacht, had been bound for Bermuda, having left Salem in Massachusetts on December 4 with only one crew member.

The U.S. Coast Guard Station Southern New England detected an EPIRB signal from RawFaith on Monday evening, Dec. 6, launched a search from its base in Cape Cod for the distressed vessel, and eventually made contact with the two sailors.

McKay said their boat was taking on water, and reported other possible system malfunctions, noting a smell of sewage aboard the boat, according to Chief Petty Officer Jeff Hall, who is based in Boston.

The Coast Guard rescued the two men from the yacht in high seas. The weather was rough, with winds blowing 25 to 30 knots and seas climbing 10 to 15 feet.

The sailors had only one survival suit on board, two inflatable life rafts and one hand-held radio.

The Coast Guard delivered another survivor suit to the sailors, and then, because of high seas and the rolling RawFaith, had both men put the suits on and get into the water along with a Coast Guard rescue swimmer. Then, the three were hoisted into a MH-60 helicopter and flown back to the Coast Guard's aircraft base on Cape Cod.

The rescue involved four helicopter sorties from Cape Cod, two Falcon jet sorties and assistance from a C-130 plane based in Elizabeth City, N.C., which remained in the area to act as a relay for rescue communications from land to ship. The rescue also required assistance from a patrol boat and the Reliance. See the video of the dangerous rescue in high seas:

However, this was not the first time Raw Faith needed rescue. In November of 2004, the Coast Guard towed the sailing vessel to Rockland after it lost all three masts about 80 miles northeast of Portland. One crew member was injured by falling rigging.

George McKay's goal had been to be able to provide wheelchair-accessible tall ship sailing adventures to disabled children and their families. His inspiration was his daughter who has a disease which confines her to a wheelchair. He also wanted those adventures to be free. So he sold his house, liquidated his assets and founded Accessible Sailing Adventures. Then he built Raw Faith.

However, his dreams might be over now. The Coast Guard cutter Reliance remained on the scene with RawFaith and sadly watched it sink forever in hundreds of feet of water:

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