MARIGOT–French-side sea rescue service SNSM was called out on Sunday morning, January 2, to locate and save a fisherman who had fallen overboard from his vessel some twenty nautical miles southeast of St. Barths.
Regional Operational Centre for Surveillance and Rescue in the Antilles-Guyana CROSS-AG asked the St. Martin SNSM station to join SNSM of St. Barths which already had been in the area since 2:00am with its lifeboat SNS 269.
The volunteer crew members from St. Martin were alerted at 10:40am Sunday and left Marina Fort Louis 20 minutes later with the SNS 129 lifeboat, taking some three hours to get to the search area more than 45 nautical miles from Marigot. Finally arriving in the area at 2:00pm, they immediately covered the search area assigned to them by CROSS.
The St. Barths SNSM lifeboat spotted the fishing boat, which was in a place without VHF coverage. When his crew member fell into the water, the captain had activated his Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) at 9:08pm, which alerted the emergency services. CROSS was able to reach a relative (listed as a contact for the beacon) who confirmed that the boat was indeed at sea at the time. CROSS then launched a “mayday relay” and a cruise ship was diverted to the area.
On site, the fishing boat informed the cruise ship of a man overboard and the cruise ship had relayed this information to CROSS-AG. They started the search and were joined by another cruise ship and a private yacht, and then by SNS 269 from St. Barths.
After searching in vain for more than two hours, SNS 269 decided to accompany the remaining fisherman, who was in a state of shock, to the port of Gustavia. They refuelled and resumed the search with SNS 129 of St. Martin and a plane from Barbados which flew over the whole area and completed three search squares, in vain. SNS 269 and SNS 129 also completed their search squares, without success, returning empty-handed.
Apparently, the two fishermen had left Gosier, Guadeloupe, 10 days ago. They were used to fishing together on their 11-metre boat for more than 10 years. The captain saw his crew member go overboard, dragged by the winch. He tried to catch him, managed to grab him by the ankle, but as the crew member weighed more than 90 kilograms, could not hold on to him to get him back on board.
He threw him a buoy, but his crew member could not reach it and the captain activated his distress beacon. It was pitch dark and he could not see his crew member, who was not wearing a lifejacket and was not a good swimmer. The captain was taken care of by the hospital in St. Barths as soon as he arrived.
Sadly, the missing person has still not been found.
SNSM presents its condolences to the family and friends of this fisherman, who disappeared too soon. SNSM reminds all those who go to sea that it is of paramount importance to wear a lifejacket (ideally equipped with a light) on any kind of boat, at any time and by everyone, even more so at night and on the open water.
A simple lifejacket can mean the difference between life and death.
Bron: Daily Herald