UPDATE: Navy and Coast Guard respond to three distressed boats, four people rescued

Posted at 4:43 PM, Nov 07, 2013
and last updated 2013-11-08 18:34:00-05

Calls for help came from five different boats and four sailors were rescued.

The Coast Guard and the Navy responded to three distressed boats near the coast of Virginia/North Carolina on Thursday.

On Friday, a fourth boat 50 miles southeast of Ocracoke Inlet called for a medevac due to an injury onboard.

The helicopter was assisting the other boats, so a motor life boat was sent. However, the seas were too rough and crews could not manage to perform the rescue. Those on the boat then told officials they are "okay" and no longer in need of assistance.

Officer Weydert says a fifth boat 100 miles east of the Oregon Inlet reported losing all steering power. A cutter assisted that boat, and had it towed to shore.The Coast Guard has not said if they sustained any injuries.

The other two boats, one off the coast of Virginia Beach and the other off the coast of Elizabeth City, are no longer in distress and rescue efforts are no longer underway.

Coast Guard officials tell NewsChannel 3 at least two of those boats were a part of the sailboat group, Salty Dawg Rally.

Today we spoke with members of the rescue team.

"What would have happened if they didn't call you?" asked NewsChannel 3's Gabriella DeLuca.

"From what we saw, they wouldn't be here today," said Michael Allen, a flight mechanic.

The boaters were aboard the "Ahimsa" yesterday when it started sinking.

"A lot of things were going through my mind. Mostly just to make sure we do everything safely and get everyone home," said Chad Watson, a rescue swimmer.

The first time the Coast Guard crew went out, the weather made it too dangerous to perform a rescue.

"When you come down in a hover at that time, the vessel is moving back and forth, the wind is blowing you sideways and it's very challenging to stay in a stable hover," says Scott Koser, a pilot.

So they came back in 30 minutes.

They eventually used a helicopter to rescue the boaters. They asked each person to jump into the water one by one, then used a hoist to pull them to safety.

“They were pretty distraught. They just lost their home. That was the only thing they had,” says Chad Watson. 

Crew members say they blame the weather for the dangerous conditions.