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By Suzette Cook
M/Y Renaissance Capt. Douglas Meier and his crew went into search-and-rescue mode on Thursday May 12 to help out two Bahamians who said they were adrift in a Boston Whaler for at least two days.
Capt. Meier said he was headed to Nassau from Harbor Island on the 116-foot Hargrave Custom Yacht with the owners onboard when they spotted the craft.
“We were about four miles offshore and there were these two guys with life jackets waving their arms at us,” said Meier who served as search and rescue for the U.S Coast Guard and is based in Ft. Lauderdale in the winter and Newport, Rhode Island in the summer.
“We turned to see what was going on and they said they had run out of gas.”
That’s when Meier and his crew stopped the boat, put some food and gasoline and water on the tender and ran over to try to get the stranded boaters’ outboard started.
“We couldn’t get the engine started, so we decided to have the tender tow them into Egg Island,” Capt. Meier said.
First Mate Max Anderson and Chef Mark McGraw were on the tender.
“We spotted them from the wheelhouse waving life jackets and red Jerry Cans,” said Anderson who was involved in a sea rescue two years ago while working on the M/Y Cocktails.
“We went out and gave them snacks and food and offered to tow them to Egg Island,” Anderson said.
That tow was about two and a half miles.
“These guys were so thankful,” Anderson said. “They tried to offer us all kinds of things, but I said ‘You know, I’ll take a photo.’ ”
According to Capt. Meier, the two were lucky they were rescued.
“It’s one of those situations where it wasn’t that bad,” Capt. Meier said. “But it could have been extremely bad. They were going between the islands, they got sucked out with the current and the tide,” he said.
One of the men rescued said, at one point, they were in 1,600 feet of water and were headed for Africa, Meier said.
“They ripped the top of their Igloo cooler off and used it as a paddle to get back into 100-foot depth,” Capt. Meier said.
“Bottom line, it was calm and the wind was in their favor. They could have been dragged right out to sea.”
Suzette Cook is editor at The Triton. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org