Fortunately, I've never been in need of being rescued, but have participated in a few rescues (none seriously offshore).
One memorable one: A competent female captain
rented a sailboat for the day to take some non-sailing girlfriends out for a sail. Weather
turned a bit sportier than forecast
. The extra physical stress caused her to have a non-fatal heart attack. The girls had no idea what to do about sailing the boat or the heart attack. The boat sailed on like the Flying Dutchman deep into a remote
cove and went hard aground (in mud fortunately).
The girls did manage to figure out the VHF
and start calling for assistance (this was pre ubiquitous cell phone
days). I was nearby on another boat teaching a sailing class and heard the call (hint: always sail w the VHF
on, even well offshore). They had no idea where they were located, but I knew the area very well so I walked them thru shooting some bearings off land marks and was able to plot an approximate position (also pre ubiquitous GPS
With that info I headed that way and got on The VHF and got other resources rounded up too. Friends ashore got a helicopter dispatched for the heart attack victim. It was too shallow to get in close without going aground too, but I hitched a ride on a passing jet ski and got to the boat. Other friends in a small powerboat got there about the same time and we were able to keep the victim concious and stable till the EMTs landed nearby. A few days in the hospital and the heart attack victim was fine, but no more unassisted sailing for her.
Getting the "Flying Dutchman" out of about 3' of mud was a whole other mini-adventure that took a couple of days.
A lot of cruising couples, us included, are just one heart attack or serious injury away from a similar, or worse, scenario. Sobering thought.