St. Augustine Police rescued a group of four people—two Americans, a Finn and a Dutch—and a dog when their 42-foot sailboat began taking on water some 12 miles offshore, between Marineland and the Matanzas Inlet Wednesday afternoon.
Patty Alexa of St. Augustine said she and her friends were setting out on a long, four to six-month cruise that was going to take them to the Bahamas, Jamaica, St. Martin and, eventually, Spain.
“We were having a nice time,” Alexa said, when the alarm went off. Two of the group had gone below deck to get some sleep, to prepare for the night shift. “We were up for the day shift. The alarm went off. I went down there, it’s about this much water on the bottom.” She shows about two inches. She woke up her shipmates, who discovered there was water in the engine.
They hopped into a dinghy and waited for help.
A St. Augustine police boat was first on the scene, rescuing the sailors and bringing them back to shore. “It took him quite a while to get back in because the seas were 5 to 6 feet out there,” St. Augustine Police Commander Michelle Perry said. “That’s one of the reasons why the City of St. Augustine and the St. Augustine Police Department fought so hard to get us a marine unit so we can do just what we did today.”
The Coast Guard dispatched a plane, a helicopter and a boat to the scene, according to Alexa. The St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office dispatched a helicopter to the scene, too. A Boat U.S. tower was bringing the sailboat back in, at a charge of $8,000. The sailboat was built in 1976.
The group had taken the boat out two days in a row before setting out for the longer journey, without a problem. All the quartet’s belongings were on the boat.
Last October a 50-foot fishing vessel with two fishermen on board was disabled then smashed onto shore, where it wrecked in half. Both fishermen swam safely to shore.
Watch Robert Kilroy’s report of Wednesday’s rescue: