Bosun Moussa Hamdy relayed this account of a recent rescue conducted by the SIU-crewed MV Endurance (TOTE Services). For additional photos, visit the SIU Facebook page HERE.
On June 15 at 0858LT the MV Endurance received a MAYDAY call from the 30-foot sailing vessel Black Pearl 170nm off the coast of Charleston, SC. The watch team quickly answered the hail and plotted the sailing vessel’s position at 12nm due South. They immediately notified the Master. The Captain of the Black Pearl reported that he had been taking on water for over 24 hours and his bilge pump quit working. He stated over the VHF radio that water was coming in at an estimated rate of 1.5 gallons a minute and that he was the sole person aboard. The Master informed the bridge team to alter course to intercept at maximum speed. USCG was notified shortly after and Black Pearl’s information was relayed.
The distressed sailboat was spotted through the binoculars by the AB on watch at about 9 nautical miles distance. Meanwhile the Chief Mate, Bosun, and deck crew were readying the starboard pilot ladder and readying emergency equipment at the starboard pilot door. The engine crew were readying the ship’s generators to use the bow thruster and getting preparing for maneuvering.
As Endurance neared the sailboat the situation was assessed and it was determined that the Master would have to loop around the sailboat and approach from the East to create an adequate lee for the little sailing vessel in the 2m seas and 15 to 20kt winds.
The Mate on watch informed the Captain of the Black Pearl of Endurance’s intentions and he stated that the water was above the settee and that he didn’t know how long he would have comms as the water level was nearing the radio equipment.
The Master of the 868-foot Endurance circled around to the East and cautiously approached the Black Pearl, keeping her at about 20m distance from the starboard side. Once the Endurance had come to a stop and the Black Pearl was positioned near the starboard pilot ladder, the Captain of the Black pearl abandoned his sinking craft and boarded his dinghy. Exhausted, he paddled the small inflatable the 20m to the pilot ladder and boarded the Endurance.
The crew greeted the shipwrecked sailor with urgency, removing his soaked shoes, and giving him blankets and dry clothes. He was checked by the ship’s medical officer, and vitals were relayed to the USCG. All in all, the captain of the Black Pearl was in ok condition with a swollen elbow and a bruise on his side. The steward department made sure he had plenty of Gatorade and food to eat after his exhausting ordeal.
Endurance headed back towards Charleston and rendezvoused with the Coast Guard Cutter Yellowfin four hours later to transfer their castaway.
The crew of the Endurance acted with urgency and professionalism to ensure the safe rescue of the captain of the sailboat. They put their merchant marine training to the test and because of that a man is alive today. Merchant mariners rely on our brothers and sisters of the sea in times of crisis and always keep a weathered eye on the horizon.
The Endurance is manned by officers from Seafarers-affiliated American Maritime Officers union and crew ratings by the Seafarers International Union.
SIU members aboard the ship during the rescue included Bosun Hamdy, ABs Michael Otwell, Hussein M. Hussein, Dennis Stevens, Charles Frisella and Joshua Cutchin, Oilers Jorge Valencia Bon, Starling Priester and Denard Williams, Chief Steward Wilfredo Ramos Silva, Chief Cook Michael Page and SA Lynford Robles.