Texas Boaters Rescued Off South Padre Island

The three anglers were helped back to shore by the Coast Guard.

Texas Coast Guard catamaran
A Coast Guard boat crew, out of South Padre Island, approaches a 31-foot catamaran taking on water 30 miles offshore. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Ronald Fitch

Three anglers headed offshore on Friday, April 28, to fish the Perdido Rig, a deepwater spar in 8,000 feet of water, almost 180 miles east of South Padre Island, Texas. The experienced crew left Island Moorings Marina in Port Aransas, Texas, at 10 a.m. But weather forecasts were not favorable, with many offshore boats staying home. When the 31-foot catamaran didn’t return that night as expected, family members reported the boaters missing.

“This case highlights the importance of diligently checking the weather forecast and filing an accurate float plan with family members, including intended arrival times,” said Senior Chief Petty Officer Josuah Chears-Stevens, command duty officer, Sector Corpus Christi.

Coast Guard Sector Corpus Christi watchstanders received a notification at 10 p.m. of three overdue boaters. Watchstanders work the radios at Coast Guard stations and monitor calls for assistance. They also maintain communications with Coast Guard boats underway in the Gulf.

First, the Coast Guard contacted Perdido Rig personnel, who reported they saw the catamaran near the rig at 3 p.m. on Friday. That’s when watchstanders directed the launch of an HC-144 Ocean Sentry airplane from Coast Guard Air Station Corpus Christi. During the search, the Ocean Sentry crew heard the boaters hail them on the radio, VHF-FM channel 16.

“The boaters then activated both the DSC distress alert function on their radio and their Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB),” said a Coast Guard news statement.

coast guard catamaran South Padre Island
The Coast Guard escorted the catamaran and men safely to Sea Ranch Marina on South Padre Island. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Ronald Fitch

Using location data from the alerts, the Coast Guard aircrew located the boaters’ position. The twin-engine turboprop aircraft found the vessel taking on water about 30 miles northeast of South Padre Island on Saturday. A 33-foot Special Purpose Craft–Law Enforcement (SPC-LE) boat, launched out of South Padre Island, also raced to the distressed boaters.

“The crew observed the three boaters bailing water out of the catamaran,” said the Coast Guard. “On-scene weather conditions were 10-foot seas with winds of 34 mph.”

The Coast Guard’s SPC-LE crew rendezvoused with the catamaran and escorted the men safely to Sea Ranch Marina on South Padre Island. No injuries or ailments were reported. 

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