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Charlotte Amalie
Saturday, July 20, 2024
HomeNewsArchivesThe Necessity for Emergency Help on the Seas

The Necessity for Emergency Help on the Seas

Dear Source:

I was involved in a boating accident this last Friday night. I wanted to thank those involved in rescuing us and make a comment on boating safety here on St. Croix.
First, on behalf of all the passengers on "Slippery When Wet", I want to give a grateful, heartfelt "Thank You" to Dick Mooney and his 1st mate. I also want to thank Kelly B., Art W., Greg W., Ingo S., Dave A. and Matt. These 8 heroes took it upon themselves to come out in their own boats to give us assistance. In typical St. Croix fashion, we called upon our friends who dropped everything to come out and get us. Again, Thank you. We appreciate everything you did.
Second, the boating accident. On Friday night, a group of us left Christiansted Harbor about 8:30 pm. We had just finished dinner and was boating back to Green Key. On the way back, we ran aground on the reef just outside the Buccaneer Hotel. (It should be noted, many of the buoy lights that mark the channel, are not working) We attempted to free ourselves from the reef, but soon found all our efforts were fruitless. Next, we called the Coast Guard. This is where I was completely surprised. When we asked the Coast Guard for assistance, they first determined that all of us were safe and there was no life threatening emergency. When we informed them that that was the case, we were then informed that short of a medical emergency or life threatening situation, we would have to wait until daylight before we could expect any help. We were all concerned because we were being battered by the constant pounding of the waves. We were being thrown about and our vessel was taking a very bad beating. At a loss of what to do, we called upon our friends. Those folks named above, took it upon themselves to come out and get us. Three of them are in the Coast Guard Auxillary. The others were recreational boaters and mariners. When they arrived, Ingo fastened a rope to himself and swam from his inflatable to our boat. He helped all of us off our boat and we were transported to Dick's boat. If it wasn't for these brave Crucians, we would have been stranded on the reef till morning.
What concerns me is the reaction from the Coast Guard and what resources are available to the boating community and all those that visit us, here on St. Croix. When we initially contacted the Coast Guard, we were informed that they were in Puerto Rico and there were no commercial salvagers available on St. Croix that could render assistance at that time. He stated that if we were in St. Thomas, there was help available, but since we were not, we were out of luck. If it wasn't for our friends, what would we or any others in that situation, have done?
The Coast Guard Auxillary has 2 boats, but they were out of the water. DPNR has at least one boat near Christiansted Harbor, as do the police. The Parks Dept has a boat at Green key. The Coast Guard didn't call anyone. Other than the Auxillary, I don't think DPNR or the police were prepared to handle this type of emergency.
This is a serious matter. Boaters here on St. Croix have no resources to call in case of an emergency. The boat was a complete loss. That could have been prevented if we received assistance when we called. Thank goodness we were safe and only battered and bruised.
This could have turned out much worse than it did. As an Island community, it should not be uncommon or unusual to have water and coastal safety procedures in place. Closing down at night should not be an option.
Something must be done so we on St. Croix can feel secure. If we can chase illegal aliens and drug smugglers around the island, we should be able to offer assistance to those of us that find ourselves in an emergency. This is not a luxury. This is a necessity.

Manny da Motta
St. Croix

Editor's note: We welcome and encourage readers to keep the dialogue going by responding to Source commentary. Letters should be e-mailed with name and place of residence to visource@gmail.com.

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