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Last Updated: Sunday, November 20, 2005 10:39 AM



News Release

Coast Guard Auxiliary Rescue in Florida 
Date: Mar 29 , 2005 

Contact: Aux. Wayne Spivak
Chief - External Communications
Public Affairs Department
United States Coast Guard Auxiliary



JUPITER, FL _ Two Coast Guard Auxiliarists, who were on shore, are getting a share of the credit for helping rescue a Florida couple adrift near the Bahamas.

The Coast Guard first become aware of a boat in distress when Auxiliarist Chris Abernathy, of Flotilla 51, who volunteers as a Communications Supervisor at Coast Guard Station Lake Worth Inlet, heard a vessel attempting to relay a distress message from an adrift 25-foot boat late Sunday morning.

“Relying heavily on our 1,000 foot antenna tower at one of our high sites, I was able to make initial contact with the relay vessel,” says Abernathy. “I did an Urgent Marine Information Broadcast with the information I had on hand, and we attempted to find out their location.”

Abernathy later was able to detect a faint signal from the couple’s handheld radio on their stricken vessel, which had run out of fuel 50 miles away from its Fort Lauderdale port.

A seasoned Boatswain Mate on duty at the Coast Guard’s Sector Miami communications center suggested that another Auxiliarist, known for his radio direction finding acumen, attempt to zero in on the weak VHF FM distress signal.

Auxiliarist Ray Agee, also a member of Flotilla 52, in North Palm Beach, swung into action from his home station known as Jupiter 1.

“Ray was able to establish direct communications with the distressed vessel,” says Abernathy. “He tried to walk the boat operator through the operations of his GPS unit. But that was not successful.”

Agee was able to give the Coast Guard’s Miami stations approximate coordinates for the adrift boat, which launched a helicopter.

The Coast Guard helicopter, at 1 p.m. on Sunday, sighted the crippled vessel, named South Boat, 19 miles west of West End, Bahamas – more than 50 miles from where the couple had departed Fort Lauderdale the previous day. Crew aboard the helicopter lowered a high-powered radio, spare batteries and a data marker buoy so the boat could be electronically tracked via satellite.

The 87-foot cutter Cormorant was then launched from Fort Pierce – making a nine-hour cruise to the couple’s location. It took the stricken vessel in tow to Old Bahama Bay Pier early Monday, ending the couple’s 29-hour odyssey at sea.

The couple was not injured in the ordeal.

Abernathy says he is not surprised that his fellow Auxiliarist was able to quickly locate the extremely weak radio signal from near the Bahamas, noting that Agee has proven time and again to have an uncanny ability to locate stricken vessels.

“It is not unusual for him to advise that the search pattern in a particular case is too far to the north or south and strongly recommend that the search be moved. When this is accepted and done, it is found that he is absolutely correct,” says Abernathy.

“Jupiter One is probably one of the greatest communications assets boaters in southeast Florida have. He is available 24/7 and very well known to the maritime community.”

The United States Coast Guard Auxiliary is composed of uniformed, non-military volunteer's who assist the Coast Guard in all of its varied missions, except for military and direct law enforcement. These men and women can be found on the nation's waterways, in the air, in classrooms and on the dock, performing Maritime Domain Awareness patrols, safety patrols, vessel safety checks and public education.

The United States Coast Guard Auxiliary was founded in 1939 by an Act of Congress as the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve and re-designated as the Auxiliary in 1941. Its 30,000 members donate millions of hours annually in support of Coast Guard missions.

For more information on the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary, visit us at



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Ed Sweeney | Department Chief | Robert Nelson | Deputy Chief
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