A Restless Spirit saves the Pentecost
America’s Volunteer Lifesavers
assist in saving the day
With Hal Leahy
Flotilla 51 - Riviera Beach, FL
United States Coast Guard Auxiliary
The 15th of April was just another average, run
of the mill day. But for some American’s, each day brings
new adventures and new opportunities. These Americans choose to
volunteer their time to help both their community and their sport,
as members of America’s Volunteer Lifesavers – the
United States Coast Guard Auxiliary.
It was a clear warm day in sunny Florida, just like any other
day, except on this day, an Emergency call will challenge several
members of the Coast Guard, the Coast Guard Auxiliary and the
Palm Beach Police Department’s Marine Bureau.
At 1PM, Coast Guard Station Lake Worth Inlet received an emergency
call from the Restless Spirit, a 50’ live-aboard sailing
vessel. The report as taken by Auxiliarist Tom Dubell, who was
augmenting this day as a Watchstander (someone who mans both the
radio and phones at a Coast Guard Station) stated that the sloop
Pentecost, another 50’ sail boat, with no one aboard had
dragged its anchor and collided with the Restless Spirit.
While the damage report was currently minor, the Restless Spirit
was reporting that the bow spirit (the front most extension on
a vessel) was caught in the rail of the Pentecost. The Restless
Spirit also reported that two of the crew were attempting to hold-off
the Pentecost, from causing more damage.
Adding to the burden, was the tide and condition of the Restless
Spirit. The tide was at its low, and as is normal, the Restless
Spirit was aground. Thus, moving or maneuvering the vessel was
out of the question.
The Auxiliary vessel Rena Bug II was on a regularly scheduled
patrol in the area of the collision. Crewing the vessel this day
was Ed McClaran (the Coxswain) and his crew Mirella Ayers, Rhonda
Hebert and Hal Leahy.
Approximately 26 minutes after the initial call, the Rena Bug
located the two vessels and arrived on scene just after a Marine
unit from the Palm Beach Police Department arrived.
Shortly thereafter, Sea Tow, a commercial salver, arrived. The
skipper of the Sea Tow vessel however, could not render assistance.
Company policy requires that an owner be present when it is not
a salvage event.
After discussing the situation with the station, the crew of
Restless Spirit, the Palm Beach PD vessel and the Rena Bug, it
was decided to attempt to move the Pentecost away from the Restless
Spirit. This normally would be somewhat complicated, but both
the Palm Beach vessel (a Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat – RHIB)
and the Rena Bug were 21' vessels.
As the RHIB tied off to the port side of Pentecost facing her
stern the Rena Bug tied up to the starboard side of the RHIB.
She, the Rena Bug was also facing the stern of the Pentecost.
This was done to get maximum power from the engines.
Auxiliarists Ayers and Leahy boarded the Pentecost in order to
slacken the anchor line to allow the PD and Auxiliary vessels
to move the Pentecost away from the Restless Spirit. Having cleared
the immediate distress, Ayers and Leahy reboarded the Rena Bug
and then both “rescue” boats disengaged from each
other and the Pentecost.
The Rena Bug then towed the Pentecost further away while dragging
her anchor. It was hoped that the Pentecost's anchor would set;
something it failed to do. While the Rena Bug theoretically could
control the Pentecost, this day reality got in the way. Due to
the wind and current, it was impossible for the Rena Bug to safely
tow the Pentecost.
Shortly thereafter, a 41’ Coast Guard Patrol Boat from
Station Lake Worth Inlet arrived on scene, with a spare anchor.
With the assistance of the Coast Guard 41’ boat, the spare
anchor, and the Rena Bug, the Pentecost was successfully moved,
reanchored and secured, with minimal damage, and no injuries.
From 1PM till the scene was considered secured, some three and
a half hours later, both the Crew of the Rena Bug, the Palm Beach
Police Department, Sea Tow and the Restless Spirit were all coordinated
and corresponded with Station Lake Worth Inlet. At the station,
monitoring and controlling the actions and responses of the vessels
involved in the incident, Auxiliarist Watchstander Tom DuBell.
Summing up the experience, Hal Leahy said “an interesting
case, where multiple services worked as a team to bring about
a successful, safe conclusion. That what being a member of the
Coast Guard Team is all about.”