MARIGOT: On Wednesday, December 29th, a boat with two people on board sank 7 nautical miles off St. Martin. Fortunately, the SNSM of St. Martin was able to rescue the two survivors on their life raft.
The alert was triggered at 4:00 a.m. on Wednesday 29 December. The CROSS-AG (Regional Operational Center for Surveillance and Rescue of the Antilles-Guyana) made the request to the station of to rescue a sinking boat with 2 people on board.
A team of 6 volunteers was immediately mobilized and set sail at 04:15 a.m., with the semi-rigid “Rescue Star”, after having loaded all the usual rescue equipment as well as a motor pump.
There was little information: the sailors in distress were only able to make one MAYDAY call by VHF at 3:30 a.m. in which they indicated to the CROSS that they were two people in absolute emergency on their sinking boat some 7 nautical miles west of St. Martin. They did not have time to give more details as communication was cut off.
The CROSS tried to contact them again; without success. A MAYDAY RELAY was then issued asking all vessels in the area to keep a close eye on the situation. A cruise ship was not far away and immediately began an active search.
The CROSS engaged the Rescue Star of the SNSM station of St. Martin; then a yacht, on its way to St. Martin, joined the search.
The Rescue Star was in the area at 4:41 a.m., joined by several units which had turned away to take part in the search, following the call from the CROSS, which gave each vessel a precise search zone to be covered in order to have the maximum chance of locating the sinking boat.
To port, starboard, bow and stern of the Rescue Star, the crew members onboard scanned the waters with thermal binoculars and scanned the waves with searchlights.
A helicopter left San Juan (Puerto Rico) at 5:10 a.m. to assist.
The day was just beginning to dawn when, at 06:20 a.m., the yacht located a small life raft and launched its tender with 2 crew members to approach it. They quickly confirmed that there were two people on board, that the main ship had sunk completely and that there was no trace of her.
The Rescue Star then joined the yacht in its search area. The CROSS asked the yacht to take the two people on board, while the SNSM crew recovered the life raft from the Rescue Star.
The yacht headed for Simpson Bay, followed by the Rescue Star. At anchor, the 2 survivors of the wreck were transferred on board the Rescue Star and taken to the Marigot ferry terminal where the firefighters were waiting to take charge of them at 8:45 a.m. and transfer them to the hospital as a precaution.
The survivors were on their way from St.Thomas to Antigua when one of the portholes suddenly gave way and their boat quickly filled with water. They had no life jackets but fortunately they had a life raft which they were able to deploy immediately after making their MAYDAY call by VHF. This raft saved their lives.
After having entrusted the two survivors to the firemen, the Rescue Star immediately left to refuel, offered by DELTA PETROLEUM, faithful sponsor of the SNSM, in order to be available again, in case of a new alert.
Back at the Marina Fort-Louis at 9:07 a.m., the volunteer crew members put away their equipment and do a small debriefing of the operation before going back to their respective professional activities.
The CROSS-AG and the SNSM station of St. Martin thank all the vessels (who asked to remain anonymous) for their participation in the search and their immediate assistance.