Good Samaritan Vessel Rescues Sailor off Puerto Rico

Silver Dover tanker rescues the yacht Tao
Image courtesy USCG

Published Feb 7, 2023 3:32 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Saturday, a good samaritan vessel rescued a single-handed sailor at a position about 60 miles to the southeast of Puerto Rico. 

In the early hours of Saturday morning, U.S. Coast Guard Sector San Juan received a distress call from the sailing yacht Tao. The sole individual aboard was the 80-year-old skipper. The yacht had lost steering, and he could not access the emergency tiller and see the compass at the same time.  

The Coast Guard issued a broadcast to nearby marine traffic to find a merchant vessel capable of rendering assistance. Meanwhile, radio communication with the yacht became difficult, then dropped out altogether. The sea state forecast was deteriorating, so Coast Guard watchstanders issued an urgent request for aid to nearby vessels. A helicopter aircrew also departed Air Station Borinquen to conduct a search for the yacht. 

The chemical tanker Silver Dover responded to the request for assistance and diverted to the yacht's position. Her crew maneuvered alongside the yacht and brought the sailor safely aboard. In order to ensure that the yacht would not be a hazard to navigation, the helicopter aircrew lowered their rescue swimmer to plant a datum marker buoy on the yacht so that its location could be tracked and shared with passing vessels. 

The yachtsman was unharmed, and the Silver Dover plans to deliver him to shore on arrival at Houston, her final destination.  

“This case highlights the well-known willingness of commercial shipping vessels such as the tank ship Silver Dover to divert from their regular routes to aid a fellow mariner,” said Lt. Cmdr. Kimberly Shadwick, U.S. Coast Guard Sector San Juan SAR coordinator. "[We] wish this boater a safe journey and reunification with his family and loved ones."