Mariner Rescued After Boat Caught Fire off Chincoteague

May 24, 2024

A mariner from a 45-foot sailboat “Trilogy” that was on fire about 60 miles east of Chincoteague was rescued late Thursday night by the US Coast Guard. Fifth District watchstanders received an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) around 8:30pm, and a rescue helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City spotted the mariner in a dingy just after 10pm. The dingy was near the burning vessel. They were able to hoist the 58 year old mariner on board and flew him to a hospital in Norfolk for medical evaluation.

Additional information from the USCG:

“Due to this mariner’s diligence to have an EPIRB on board his vessel, rescue crews were alerted to his distress and arrive in a timely manner,” said Lt. J.G. Erin Bellen, search and rescue operations unit controller with Fifth Coast Guard District. “This mariner also had filed a float plan with a family member, which the Coast Guard always recommends you do even for short day trips. He also had an immersion suit, which he had put on prior to getting in the dingy. All these actions and planning for a maritime emergency helped save his life.”

Here are some tips boaters can use to have a safe summer on the water:

  • Always wear a life jacket. The Coast Guard reminds boaters to ensure life jackets are serviceable, properly sized, correctly fastened, and suitable for your activity. In 2022, where the cause of death was known, 75 percent of fatal boating incident victims drowned. Of those drowning victims with reported life jacket usage, 85 percent were not wearing a life jacket. 
  • Boat sober. It is illegal to operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs in every state. Penalties for violating BUI/BWI laws can include large fines, suspension or revocation of boat operator privileges, and jail terms.
  • Check the weather before going out on the water. Know your weather limitations – what your boat can handle and what it can’t. Check the weather for storms, tides, currents, and winds.
  • Have an EPIRB. Always go out with an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon. Own it, know it, and register it. An EPIRB is a device that is designed to transmit a distress signal if you get into trouble. No matter where you are in the world, an EPIRB sends a signal to emergency responders through a satellite system.
  • File a float plan! A float plan is telling someone where you are going and when you plan to return. A float plan should be given to a friend or family member and includes a description of your boat, what is on board and a description of the safety equipment you are carrying. If you change plans mid-voyage, let someone know! 
  • Always take a marine radio. A VHF-FM radio is the best method of communication while on the water. Although cell phones are a good backup, they can be unreliable due to gaps in coverage area and the inevitable dead battery.
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AIS Testing BT200
AIS Testing BT200
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