September 10th, 2012 1930
The schooner Martha Seabury was underway, undersail in force 5 conditions and 2-3' seas, en route to Cuttyhunk Island, approximately 4 nm from the island. The sun was just below the horizon and getting dark quick, when deckhand Allison Phillips spotted persons in the water waving the arms in distress. They were about .5 nm away, and I immediately called to take in all sail and rounded up while starting the main engine.
We motored up to the victims who were clinging to the top of an overturned 15' sailing dingy. The three victims were in their 20's, with two in PFD's and one without one on. It was quickly apparent that all three were hypothermic and low on strength and energy. We called for them one by one to swim over to the schooner and we hoisted them aboard and quickly got them below decks were Allison Phillips began tending to them by removing their wet clothing and getting them wrapped in sleeping bags, as well as wool hats and socks. Two of the three were violently vomiting seawater and were barely responsive. Chief Mate Paul Bracken called the USCG on VHF 16 and began arranging a rendezvous to transfer the victims to get to shore....The USCG requested that we steam towards Wood's Hole, MA where they had deployed a 41' cutter towards us.
Around 2015 we spotted the cutter and began comms with them and determined that we would heave to, and they would attempt to come alongside us in our lee. It was quickly apparent that it was too rough for the transfer, even though the cutter coxswain disagreed, as the two vessels had very different rolling motions and damage to the schooner would have been unavoidable. I agreed to quickly get one of the USCG medics onboard, with a touch and go maneuver, which was executed fairly well, and then immediately started steaming towards Cuttyhunk and calmer waters. The medic onboard confirmed our assessment that the victims had stabilized and were in no immediate threat, and agreed that doing the transfer in calmer waters was appropriate as time was not a critical factor at this point. At 2040, we got into the lee of a reef on the northeast side of Cuttyhunk, and the cutter came along side at which point the victims had much more strength and were easily transferred to the cutter. The cutter crew and victims thanked us and we continued into Cuttyhunk harbour and got alongside for night.
We are so very proud of, and thankful for, the efforts of the Martha Seabury's crew. To view a photo of them during dinner at a friend's home on Cuddyhunk later that night, please visit http://instagram.com/p/PdIqIwsiRa/*