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The U.S. Coast Guard rescued 13 people off a 106-foot yacht that eventually sank about 15 miles east of the Hillsboro Inlet in Ft. Lauderdale on Monday night (Jan. 25).
The USCG received a distress call from the M/Y Serena III via VHF radio at 6:30 p.m., USCG Public Affairs Specialist Jon-Paul Rios said. The yacht is believed to have been built in Brazil, and flies a Brazilian flag.
“We were notified that the vessel was taking on water pretty quickly,” Rios said. “We launched three assets: the cutter Margaret Norvell, one [rescue boat] from Coast Guard Station Fort Lauderdale, and a Miami station helicopter.”
A small boat aboard the Margaret Norvell was able to come off and rescue the captain, six crew and six passengers, and bring them aboard the Margaret Norvell, he said. They were brought back to Miami and have since been released with no injuries, said Rios.
Because the vessel sank, the USCG will conduct an investigation to find out what happened, Rios said.
One vessel from TowBoatUS Fort Lauderdale was on scene as the vessel began to list and began towing it ashore, but it continued to sink and had to be cut loose, said Larry Acheson, owner of the towing franchise.
“It was too dangerous to get anybody on it,” Acheson said, explaining why his company didn’t attempt to dewater the yacht before beginning the tow. “We had other assets coming, which is what we needed, but there wasn’t time. I couldn’t get enough people there fast enough to do it safely.”
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Although he said he reached the yacht within 30 minutes of the call, he said all the below deck staterooms were already underwater. He released his tow line when it was clear the vessel was going to sink, he said.
Sea Tow of Fort Lauderdale owner Capt. Tim Morgan also responded to the distress call. He said someone aboard the vessel reported they thought they had lost the stabilizer, causing the flooding.
“When we got on scene, the vessel was listing 15 degrees to port,” Morgan said. “We could see the vessel was going to roll over and capsize, so we remained on standby.
“We recovered an 18-foot inflatable tender, a Jet Ski and life raft,” he said. “Everything else went to the bottom.”
Suzette Cook is editor of The Triton. Editor Emeritus Lucy Chabot Reed contributed to this report. Comments are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.