Bring a jacket (and training) next time

Published on December 11th, 2019

The 911 call that prompted a two-day search last month for a sailboat off Mount Desert Island (Maine) came from a crew member who said she was cold and uncomfortable and was not sure she was going to get warm again.

The Coast Guard searched for the Dove, a 40-foot Beneteau, after getting the 911 call early the morning of Nov. 16 from Charlotte Kirby, one of three people on board. She told the dispatcher “we are on a boat” but then the call went dead — prompting a two-day search by the Coast Guard. The boat had departed from John Williams Boat Yard on Mount Desert Island the day before.

The Coast Guard traced the source of the call to a location 20 miles off MDI and searched the Gulf of Maine until the afternoon of Nov. 18, when the Dove was located off Montauk, New York.

A GPS device on board Dove had been deactivated after a communications subscription service for the device had not been renewed, but after the search came up empty, a relative of one of the crew renewed the service, reactivating the GPS, which the Coast Guard then detected off Long Island.

After the GPS was reactivated Nov. 18, the Coast Guard was able to communicate with the trio on the boat and confirmed that they and the boat were in good shape. Sailing with Kirby on the 40-foot boat were Nathaniel Davis and Wilfredo Lombardo.

In addition to saying she had become cold and uncomfortable, Kirby told Coast Guard officials she was feeling seasick when she called but later felt better.

After the Dove’s location off Long Island was confirmed, the trio continued sailing toward their planned destination in Florida.

However, the sailors had to be rescued from the boat the next day, on Nov. 19, by a passing cargo vessel after the boat sustained damage in rough seas and became disabled. The sailboat was left behind at sea as the cargo ship brought the sailors back to shore.


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