Low on food and water and two months overdue in his quest to journey across the Pacific Ocean in a homemade sailboat, a 78-year-old man was rescued early Thursday by the Coast Guard cutter Robert Ward near California’s Channel Islands.
“If this mariner didn’t have a float plan and reliable communications ashore, the outcome of this case could have ended up drastically different,” said Cmdr. Justin Noggle, the Sector Los Angeles-Long Beach chief of response in a statement emailed to Navy Times.
“We are relieved that we were able to provide the much-needed assistance to bring him and his vessel back to shore safely.”
A Coast Guard press release issued Friday detailed the unnamed mariner’s long strange trip that started in Japan in late May.
On Oct. 29, the man’s brother reported to Coast Guard District 11 command center watchstanders in Alameda, California, that the sailboat Mayfly was slated to arrive in San Francisco in late August but a lack of wind delayed its journey and the skipper was running out of food and water.
Using the Automated Mutual-Assistance Vessel Rescue System — AMVER — the Coasties requested help from the Norwegian-flagged cargo ship Tamesis to drop off rations with the Mayfly.
The man sought no further assistance and continued on his way, according to the Coast Guard.
On Nov. 4, however, Coast Guard watchstanders received a second request for food and water directly from the mariner, who reported encountering heavy seas about 250 nautical miles west of Los Angeles.
Alerted by the AMVER system, the Liberian-flagged container ship Uberty diverted and provided more supplies, Coast Guard officials told Navy Times on Friday.
On Wednesday, Alameda watchstanders notified Coast Guard Sector Los Angeles-Long Beach that the Mayfly was 85 nautical miles southwest of the Point Vicente Lighthouse and its mariner was running out of supplies again.
The crew of the cutter Robert Ward diverted from their patrol to reach the Mayfly. They made contact Thursday and then transferred the tow to a 45-foot Response Boat-Medium crew from Coast Guard Station Channel Islands Harbor.
They brought the Mayfly and its uninjured mariner to their homeport in Oxnard.