CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Crews with Coast Guard Sectors Charleston and Savannah on Thursday rescued a man in the water near Stone River Inlet after his sailboat capsized.
According to the Coast Guard, the man had been in the water for two hours and was being pulled out to sea. He put out a Mayday call over marine radio Channel 16, which is the frequency used for emergencies.
Crews were able to narrow down an area of interest and sent two MH-65 Dolphin helicopters to search, one of which located the man.
“Our helicopter is equipped with direction finding equipment that allows us to locate the direction of a distress call very quickly,” explained Lt. Commander Jake Wrieden, who served as the aircraft commander on the case.
After pinpointing the location, “the helicopter deployed a rescue swimmer and hoisted the man to safety.” He was then transferred to the care of Charleston County EMS.
While the rescue was successful, crews said that it was complicated by other boaters using Channel 16 for non-distress calls. The Coast Guard said that sifting through the non-distress calls “degraded [their] ability to locate the survivor,” and emphasized that Channel 16 should be used “for hailing and distress only.”