Coast Guard Responds To Five Distressed Sailboats, Rescues Four People

The U.S. Coast Guard, with the help of the Navy, save four people and responded to five distressed sailboats Thursday and Friday off the coast.

In the first case, the 41-foot sailboat "Ahimsa" was participating in the Salty Dawg Rally and sent out a distress signal. It said the boat was taking on water and was some 230 east of Virginia Beach. A HC-130 Hercules airplane and MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter, both from Elizabeth City, were sent to rescue those on board.

The Coast Guard says the helicopter flew to the USS Vella Gulf, where it refueled and then hoisted four people from the "Ahimsa" around 1:30 a.m.

The Coast Guard responded to several other boats to follow up on distress signals, including helping a 54-foot sailboat that was disabled about 100 miles east of Oregon Inlet.

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The U.S. Coast Guard says it's en route to three sailboats in distress off the North Carolina and Virginia coasts.

They say two alerts via a satellite tracking device and a third alert via an emergency position indicating radio beacon were received from the three sailboats.

One is 230 miles east of Elizabeth City, while the other two are 230 and 275 miles east of Virginia Beach.

A HC-130 Hercules airplane and an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from Elizabeth City are responding, as well as the USS Vella Gulf which was diverted by the Navy.

Meteorologist Matt Engelbrecht estimates that winds in the area are between 30 and 35 knots.