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Satnews Daily
March 4th, 2017

ACR's distress beacon, capsize survivor and USCG offer advice

ACR Electronics, a Drew Marine Company, joined forces with the United States Coast Guard during the Miami International Boat Show to offer important survival advice to boaters with support from the latest member of the firm's SurvivorClub initiative.

As part of ACR’s commitment to raising awareness about carrying a properly registered distress beacon, the leading safety equipment specialist set up a meeting between Miami resident Charles Nethersole and the Coast Guard personnel involved in his rescue following the November 2016 capsize of a sailing catamaran, named Leopard. US Coast Guard Seventh District Command Center’s Command Duty Officers Michael J. Mullen and Sean T. Connett presented Mr. Nethersole with a free ACR Electronics EPIRB, a replacement service available to all ACR SurvivorClub members. ACR Electronics Director of Marketing Mikele D’Arcangelo also handed over a new replacement Ditch Bag to Nethersole, a professional captain.

Nethersole related his harrowing story from the recent incident when the 2008 Atlantic 57 catamaran was suddenly lifted and flipped over by a likely tornadic waterspout during the night about 400 nautical miles north of the Dominican Republic while on a delivery voyage from the Chesapeake Bay to St. Maarten. The ACR Electronics GlobalFix PRO onboard was activated and the signal quickly picked up, with a U.S.C.G. aircraft dispatched within a few hours of capsize to locate the distress call.

Nethersole, who has 14 years’ experience on the Atlantic 55 and 57 catamarans as well as decades of delivery and racing experience on a variety of offshore yachts, described the moment of the capsize for him and his two crew, Carolyn Bailey and Bert Juno Lewis. He said, “The true wind speed was about 18 knots, (apparent 24) and I was about to harden up when a roar from a gust of wind hit the boat. The starboard hull lifted and continued rotating over. Even though I was standing at the helm station I had no time to disengage the autopilot before I was off balance as the boat went over completely. There was a lot of crashing noise, and water pouring in through the smashed front door.”

The Leopard crew had a properly loaded ACR RapidDitch Bag with the EPIRB, a fully-charged handheld VHF, an Electronic SOS Signal and other gear. They also had two immersion suits and one survival suit to wear while waiting. Leaving the EPIRB submerged in the water in the dinghy to transmit, they eventually sighted the Coast Guard C-130 search aircraft as it passed by and dropped a flare to guide a nearby freighter, the M/V Aloe, which was directed to pick up the crew following a stressful 10 hours spent on the overturned hull.

US Coast Guard footage of the rescue can be viewed here: youtube.com/watch?v=jpZaxlWwep4

Now in its fourth year, SurvivorClub originally launched at the Miami Boat Show and is nearing 200 members. The program provides a free replacement beacon for all its members and helps to provide compelling, first-hand evidence that 406 MHz beacons should be part of every boater’s safety kit.