The miraculous rescue of two men off the Delaware coast highlights the need for keeping both an EPIRB and an eVDSD onboard.
After a massive storm damaged their mast and left them adrift, a pair of sailors and their dog were found alive after drifting some 200 miles from the Delaware coast.
Kevin Hyde, 65, Joe Ditomasso, 76, and their dog Minnie were traveling from Cape May, New Jersey, to Marathon, Florida, aboard their boat Atrevida II but fell out of contact with their family after leaving North Carolina's Outer Banks on Dec 3rd.
"I got a voice mail from him on December 3 and it was really fuzzy cutting in and out," Ditomasso's daughter, Nina Ditommasso, told NBC10. "But one point in the voice mail it said, "All is well.'"
But after not hearing from her father for another week, by December 10th Ditommasso's daughter became worried enough to start a missing person's report. It turns out her intuition was correct.
"A huge storm blew up and just blew us off course. I lost part of my mast, so I didn’t have the power to make the turn," Hyde told Fox29 Philadelphia.
"The scariest part was when the boom came down, it was 50-foot high for the sails," Ditomasso added. "Once we cut that mast off – the 40-foot seas, they were mountains. I was watching them."
The U.S. Coast Guard was notified that the group was overdue in Florida and a search was initiated.
The entirety of the search area spanned nearly the entire Eastern Seaboard from New Jersey to Florida, covering a massive search area of over 21,000 square miles.
Coast Guard cutters and aircraft were launched to help cover the massive surface area along with U.S. Navy ships and commercial and recreational boats along the group's expected route.
According to the Coast Guard, On Tuesday, Dec 13th, Hyde and Ditomassa were spotted by the crew of the Silver Muna tanker ship off the coast of Delaware.
After safely boarding the Silver Muna, the men explained that they'd first encountered a storm that left them adrift, then run out of fuel rendering their radios, electronics, and navigation equipment inoperable. Unable to maintain a course back to the mainland, the two men had seemingly been adrift.
"The dog was unbelievable, you know, with 40-foot seas. Nobody got hurt. It’s unbelievable," Joe DiTomasso told Fox 29.
After an evaluation by the medical staff aboard the Silver Muna both men and the dog were found to be in good health.
The trio will now stay aboard the tanker until it reaches its destination in New York, at which time the Coast Guard will reevaluate the men before reuniting them with their families.
“This is an excellent example of the maritime community’s combined efforts to ensure safety of life at sea,” said Cmdr. Daniel Schrader, spokesperson for Coast Guard Atlantic Area.
“We are overjoyed with the outcome of the case and look forward to reuniting Mr. Hyde and Mr. Ditomasso with their family and friends. We also want to highlight the importance of proper safety equipment and preparedness when going to sea. Having an emergency position indicating radio beacon, or ‘EPIRB’, allows mariners to immediately make contact with first responders in an emergency.”
An EPIRB, or Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon, is a self-sustaining electronic device that sends a boat's location via GPS once activated.
Carrying an eVDSD (electronic visual distress signaling device) is also highly recommended to ensure you can notify searchers of your location if they come near.