RESCUE: Two passengers, aboard a drifting speedboat, rescued by the SNSM of Saint-Martin


Two boaters, aboard a speedboat with an engine failure 17 miles from the coast, were rescued on February 15 by volunteer rescuers from the Saint-Martin SNSM.

On Wednesday February 15, around 20:40 p.m., to respond to a call from the CROSS AG (Regional Center for the Organization of Rescue and Rescue Antilles Guyana) five volunteer rescuers from the SNSM  from Saint-Martin interrupt their meals and jump into their car to reach the station.

Le CROSS Antilles-Guyane has just engaged the launch SNS 129 "Notre Dame de la Garoupe" for a 49-foot speedboat, with engine damage about ten miles from the coast, with at least 2 people on board who seem panicked and cannot give their exact position… communication is difficult.

A Pan Pan message (message requesting assistance without vital emergency) is then broadcast by the CROSS and a steamer heading for Tortola diverts to sweep the area where the broken down speedboat must be. At 21 p.m., the SNSM launch left its quay and was traveling at 10 knots in heavy seas, with a force 21 wind. the arrival of the SNS 5, resume its initial route after freedom of maneuver of the CROSS.

The crew of 129 tries to obtain information on the people on board the speed-boat (name of the boat, number of people on board, problem?, medical assistance?, etc.). They don't really answer the questions. do not really know how to use the VHF, do not know the name of the boat they are on (!) and have no safety equipment (life jackets, etc.) on board. Impossible to know exactly the nature of their problem…  they ask for a tow to bring them back to Saint-Martin.

At 22:25 p.m., the trailer passed and the convoy headed for Marigot Bay, the 129 then being 17 miles from the coast. It will take 5 hours for the launch to return at a speed of 4 knots maximum in this heavy sea. The team members take turns during this time to keep watch on the trailer and their load, while others try to grab a few minutes of rest.

Once in Marigot Bay, the SNS 129 put the speedboat alongside and headed for the anchorage area to moor it to a buoy. The two people were brought back to the quay at the Marina Fort Louis aboard the 129 around 3:30 a.m. The five volunteer rescuers leave each other at 4 a.m. for a little rest before resuming their respective professional activities, but always with the feeling of a job well done.

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