November 28. 2013.
While we were sitting at Big Majors Spot we listened to the VHF as a drama unfolded. It was late in the afternoon as listened to a conversation about a boat that had run aground 17 miles to our northwest.
We could hear both sides as BASRA ( Bahamas Air Sea Rescue ) spoke with a US Coast Guard helicopter. The boat was reported to be a “Haitian sailing freighter”, about a forty footer. It was blowing 30 knots and at first it seemed to be a simple grounding. It soon became obvious that the boat was destined to end up as another of many shipwrecks that dot these beautiful waters.
The only local Bahamanian boat was way to small to handle the rescue as the “sailing Freighter” had over a hundred people aboard. Thats right, over a hundred people on a forty footer. The Coast Guard chopper plucked close to a dozen people off the boat before darkness set in and delivered them to Staniel Cay. They also dropped food, fresh water and multiple liferafts down to the stricken vessel.
By the time dawn broke the freighter had capsized. People were clinging to the hull, floating away in rafts and swimming in the water. A 108 foot Bahamian cutter arrived at the scene and continued the rescue process. The US Coast Guard had both a helicopter and a fixed wing aircraft on station guiding the Bahamians rescue boats where they were needed.
More than a hundred people were rescued in very trying conditions while more than 30 didn't survive the ordeal. To listen as the US Coast Guard and the local authorities worked together was more than interesting. I Googled up an article about the wreck. You can see some pictures and read the official account here.