On Monday, April 12, while in the ballast leg of a routine voyage from Charleston, South Carolina to Corpus Christi, Texas, Third Officer Joseph Mainella alerted the Master of the good ship M/V Sunshine State to a stranded boater franticly waving a red jacket at the vessel indicating that the drifting vessel was in distress.
The officers and crew of the Sunshine State, owned by APT and operated by Crowley Petroleum Services, took immediate action to assist the stranded vessel. The Master commenced emergency maneuvers, which included slowing the engines and performing multiple round turns to calm the wind waves and seas around the stranded vessel. In the meantime, the vessel's bridge team commenced emergency communications with USCG Sector Miami, alerting them to the vessel's position and the condition of the two souls onboard. The Sunshine State stayed on location directing units of the USCG, local Sheriff's Department from St. Lucie County, as well as coordinating search-and-rescue operations with U.S. Navy Airborne unit 898.
Once the large Coast Guard Cutter Isaac Mayo (WPC 1112) arrived on scene, the Sunshine State remained windward of the stricken vessel to provide a lee for small boat boarding operations. Once aboard, the USCG found two people, both in need of medical attention. The Sunshine State was informed by the Isaac Mayo boarding team that they had been adrift for several days after their 42-foot Grand Banks style cabin cruiser had her super structure ripped from the main deck during the height a violent storm off the coast of Fort Pierce.
The Isaac Mayo - Miami Patrol took the two survivors aboard and expedited their return to port for further medical attention. The drifting hull of the yacht La Sabia was then taken under tow to the nearest Florida port. USCG Lt. Cmdr. Nick Zieser, commanding officer of the CGC Isaac Mayo, then released the Sunshine State with many thanks, stating: "Thank you for discovering and reporting this case - fair winds and a safe rest of your voyage."
After returning to our original track line, the Sunshine State encountered the main cabin and pilot house of La Sabia floating upside down with a capsized aluminum row boat lashed to the superstructure amongst other wreckage. The Sunshine State investigated the wreckage to ensure there were no other persons involved in the incident who were unaccounted for. The hazard to marine navigation was reported to USCG Sector Miami, which then transmitted a continuous marine navigation warning to all the vessels in the immediate area.
Captain A.J. Weis
Master, M/V Sunshine State