Yesterday, the Coast Guard towed a singlehander into port in Southern California after a five-month crossing from Japan in a homemade vessel. The 78-year-old skipper — who reportedly suffered through weeks of light winds — had been reprovisioned several times before finally asking for a tow.
“On October 29, the brother of the mariner notified Coast Guard District 11 command center watchstanders that his brother departed Japan at the end of May and was expected to arrive in San Francisco in late August,” a Coast Guard press release said. “Due to a lack of wind, the man aboard the sailing vessel Mayfly was delayed by two months, depleting his food and water supply.”
The Coast Guard apparently delivered rations to the Mayfly via an “Automated Mutual-Assistance Vessel Rescue System vessel, the motor vessel Tamesis, to provide rations to the distressed mariner,” the press release said. ” The Tamesis arrived on scene and delivered the rations with no request for additional assistance.” It’s not clear exactly when this was (nor are we entirely clear on the Coast Guard’s use of automated vessels to assist mariners).
Then, on November 4, the Coast Guard said that district watchstanders “received a request for food and water from the mariner who was also experiencing heavy weather approximately 250 nautical miles west of Los Angeles. The motor vessel Umberty diverted and transferred additional rations.”
On Wednesday, watchstanders notified the Coast Guard in Los Angeles/Long Beach that the Mayfly was approximately 85 nautical miles southwest of Point Vicente, was low on supplies, and was requesting a tow. “The Coast Guard Cutter Robert Ward was diverted from its patrol to tow the homemade vessel towards Oxnard. A Channel Islands Harbor crew on a 45-ft ‘response boat-medium’ took over the tow, and brought the Mayfly to Station Channel Islands Harbor.”
“‘If this mariner didn’t have a float plan and reliable communications ashore, the outcome of this case could have ended up drastically different,’ said Cmdr. Justin Noggle, the Sector Los Angeles-Long Beach chief of response. ‘We are relieved that we were able to provide the much-needed assistance to bring him and his vessel back to shore safely.'”