By CRA News Service
A crew aboard the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Bluefin rescued three Boynton Beach men Sunday morning from their capsized 35-foot vessel, near the Bahamas.
The trio – Bruce Mandigo, Dave Mandigo and Jhade Woodall – were cold and hungry, but in good overall health, Coast Guard officials said.
The three had departed from Boynton Beach and were anchored about 22 miles northwest of the West End when the boat began taking on water, officials said.
As the men put on their life jackets, the boat sank beneath their feet. They called for help and activated their personal locator beacon (PLB) so that the Coast Guard could find them.
The Coast Guard responded by boat, but one of their aircraft from Miami reached the vessel around 6 a.m., LTJG Rob Poitinger said. The Cutter Bluefin then picked them up.
“They dropped a smoke float in the water … within a hundred yards of their position,” Piontinger said. “And after the smoke popped, we knew exactly where they were and we launched our small boat and came on scene and recovered the three people in the water.”
They were able to avoid a potentially fatal incident because of their preparedness, officials said. They then clung to a cooler until help arrived.
“These people not only had their life jackets on, they stayed together in a group,” Piontiger said.
“They had a personal locating beacon which led us directly to their position and we were able to save them within six hours of being in the water.”
More than 75 percent of boating deaths are consequences of drowning, not injuries, Coast Guard officials said. And more than 90 percent of drowning victims are found to have not worn life jackets, they added.
The Coast Guard reminds all boaters that preparedness is important explaining that small investments such as life jackets and PLB’s, or similar devices, save lives. The Coast Guard also reminds people to regularly check equipment to ensure that everything is still working.
Family members greeted the men at a happy reunion in Ft. Pierce.