The St. Maarten Sea Rescue
Foundation rescued three people from a sinking sailing vessel on Wednesday morning.
At approximately 11:00am, Sea Rescue
received a distress
call from the vessel Gem stating that the boat was taking on water
and sinking. The voluntary crew of the Sea Rescue vessel Rescue 01 quickly responded to the call and proceeded to the last known location of the Gem, armed with a pump.
By the time Sea Rescue arrived, the Gem had already drifted about one mile out of its reported location. It became immediately clear that the 50 foot sailing vessel was taking on a lot of water
and indeed sinking.
Water intake was at such a high volume, it was determined that deploying the pump would not help. Instead, the decision was made to remove the three persons from the sailing vessel.
After the French family
of three was safely on board Rescue 01, a quick tow was started to see if it would be possible to tow the vessel to shallow water to be retrieved later. However, after some 15 minutes, it became obvious that the vessel was going to sink and the tow was terminated. The Gem sunk about five minutes later.
The on-scene coastguard and Rescue 01 proceeded to the Simpson Bay Coastguard Station where the three persons were later taken onshore and assisted with finding accommodations for the night.
According to the family
, the Gem was their home and they were on their way to crossing the Atlantic Ocean
to the Azores
. Sea Rescue explained that the family left Marigot earlier and probably hit something in the water, which caused the vessel to take on water and start sinking.
Retrieval of the vessel is not likely since it sank in very deep waters.