Coast Guard: Call From 'Cold And Uncomfortable' Passenger Sparked 2-Day Search For Sailboat Off MDI

Dec 5, 2019

The 911 call that prompted a two-day search last month for a sailboat off Mount Desert Island came from a boat passenger who said she was “cold and uncomfortable” and “was not sure she was going to get warm again,” a U.S. Coast Guard spokesman said Wednesday.

The Coast Guard searched for the Dove after getting the 911 call early the morning of Nov. 16 from Charlotte Kirby, one of three passengers on board. She told the dispatcher “we are on a boat” but then the call went dead — prompting a two-day search by the Coast Guard. The boat had departed from John Williams Boat Yard on Mount Desert Island the day before.

The Coast Guard traced the source of the call to a location 20 miles off MDI and searched the Gulf of Maine until the afternoon of Nov. 18, when the Dove was located off Montauk, New York.

A GPS device on board Dove had been deactivated after a communications subscription service for the device had not been renewed, according to a report in the weekly Mount Desert Islander newspaper. After the search came up empty, a relative of one of the passengers renewed the service, reactivating the GPS, which the Coast Guard then detected off Long Island, the newspaper reported.

After the GPS was reactivated Nov. 18, the Coast Guard was able to communicate with the trio on the boat and confirmed that they and the boat were in good shape. Sailing with Kirby on the 40-foot boat were Nathaniel Davis and Wilfredo Lombardo.

In a subsequent interview with the people on the sailboat, Coast Guard officials asked them why they had called 911.

In addition to saying she had become cold and uncomfortable, Kirby told Coast Guard officials she was feeling seasick when she called but later felt better, said Petty Officer Third Class Ryan Noel, a spokesman for the Coast Guard’s First District in Boston.

After the Dove’s location off Long Island was confirmed, the trio continued sailing toward their planned destination in Florida.

However, the sailors had to be rescued from the boat the next day, on Nov. 19, by a passing cargo vessel after the boat sustained damage in rough seas and became disabled, the Islander reported Monday.

The sailors donned lifejackets before they were safely pulled on board the vessel Jaguar Max, the Islander reported. The sailboat was left behind at sea as the cargo ship brought the sailors back to shore.

This story appears through a media sharing agreement with Bangor Daily News.