U. S. Coast Guard Rescues Sailor From Sinking Yacht off Puerto Rico

Courtesy USCG

Published Dec 11, 2023 9:30 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Friday, U.S. Coast Guard aircrews rescued a solo sailor from a yacht that was taking on water off the coast of Puerto Rico.

The service rescued U.S. citizen Neil Treitman, 69, from the yacht Sailicity about 170 nautical miles of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. Treitman was under way aboard the 46-foot catamaran for a trip from Nassau to Tortola when his vessel began to flood.

Coast Guard Sector San Juan received a call from a third party on Friday evening reporting that Sailicity was in distress. The caller, based in the British Virgin Islands, was relaying information from a satellite call from Treitman. The notification of an evolving distress situation occurred at about 2200 hours Friday, and shortly after, watchstanders received an EPIRB distress signal from a device aboard the sailing yacht. 

In response, the Coast Guard launched a Jayhawk helicopter out of Air Station Borinquen and an Ocean Sentry search plane from Air Station Miami. The cutter USCGC Pablo Valent also diverted towards Sailicity's position. Sector San Juan also put out a call for assistance from any nearby merchant traffic.

The Jayhawk helicopter aircrew arrived early on scene and lowered away their rescue swimmer to the deck of the stricken yacht. The swimmer securely hoisted Treitman aboard the aircraft, and the aircrew delivered him to safety.

After the rescue, Treitman told the Coast Guard that he had noticed the start of the flooding earlier in the voyage, and he was able to control it for a while using the bilge pumps and buckets. However, the rate of water ingress sped up, and he was no longer able to keep up with it. 

"We’re very thankful Mr. Treitman had the necessary equipment on board his vessel so we could safely and efficiently locate him far offshore," said Lt. Cmdr. Vince Knaeble, Air Station Borinquen MH-60T Jayhawk aircraft commander for the case. 

The Coast Guard reminded private boaters that they should carry an EPIRB, as Treitman did, and a VHF radio to facilitate search and rescue.