Coast Guard Rescues 4 Sailors Caught in Hurricane Ian Waves Off Outer Banks

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Coast Guard team members preform search and rescue operations at Sanibel Island, Fl.
Coast Guard Gulf, Atlantic and Pacific Strike team members preform search and rescue operations for the people of the Sanibel Island, Florida, community, who were stranded due to Hurricane Ian on Sept. 30, 2022. The strike forces transferred more than 30 people to Florida’s mainland to seek shelter and resources. (Gabriel Wisdom/U.S. Coast Guard) )

Coast Guard crews rescued four mariners in a sailboat caught in heavy seas Thursday churned by Hurricane Ian off the Outer Banks.

The boat, named the Catalyst, was overwhelmed by 12-14 foot waves around noon at Oregon Inlet and unable to make its way to safe harbor, the Coast Guard said in a Facebook post.

One Coast Guard vessel from the nearby Oregon Inlet station responded to help the distressed sailors while another stood by at the inlet’s notoriously dangerous, shifting sandbar between the Atlantic Ocean and Pamlico Sound.

The stranded mariners anchored the Catalyst outside of the inlet’s sandbar and abandoned ship, with Coast Guard crews working to retrieve the four out of the water.

Midway through the rescue, after the sailors were already off the boat, the anchor line snapped and the Catalyst “rapidly began drifting onto the bar,” where the boat grounded in shallow water, the Coast Guard reported. The Coast Guard crew’s steersman, or coxswain, “expertly maneuvered” the guard’s vessel into the surf zone to rescue the remaining mariners and return to the station.

High surf advisories and gale warnings were in effect Thursday along the Outer Banks as Hurricane Ian moved east into the Atlantic Ocean. Today, the Outer Banks is under tropical storm warnings and storm surge watches with rain and wind pounding the chain of barrier islands.

“All mariners are reminded to maintain awareness of current and forecasted weather conditions to ensure the safety of their vessel and crew,” the Coast Guard said.

The Catalyst drifted onto the beach at Oregon Inlet, where it remained grounded on late Friday morning. There’s been no word yet on removal efforts.

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