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Press Release | Sept. 23, 2023

Coast Guard rescues 5 from sailing vessel during Tropical Storm Ophelia

PORTSMOUTH, Va. — The Coast Guard rescued five people Friday from an anchored 38-foot catamaran that was beset by weather conditions caused by Tropical Storm Ophelia within Lookout Bight in Cape Lookout, North Carolina.  

The owner of sailing vessel Wanderful Life used a cell phone to call Coast Guard Sector North Carolina watchstanders on Friday evening at 7:13 p.m. and report his concern with local weather while being anchored within Lookout Bight. The owner of the vessel did not feel comfortable in the channel and requested to be rescued by the Coast Guard.  

All passengers aboard were wearing lifejackets and three of them were children, ages 10, 7, and 4.  

A Coast Guard Station Fort Macon 47-foot Motor Life Boat crew, got underway at 7:55 p.m. and transited through the narrow channel with the use of M127A1 parachute flares to illuminate their way due to the adverse conditions created by Tropical Storm Ophelia.  

The station crew arrived on scene at 8:55 p.m. and began their personnel transfer from the sailing vessel to the station boat, getting all five passengers aboard by approximately 9:23 p.m. 

A Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew also arrived on scene and provided an overhead light for the transit back to the station, arriving there at 10:22 p.m. 

The sailing vessel was left anchored and will be assessed by local salvage crews, once Tropical Storm Ophelia passes. 

The conditions at the time were 6-foot to 8-foot seas, with occasional 10-foot swells. The winds were 35 to 40 mph. 

There were no reported injuries. 

Due to Tropical Storm Ophelia, the Coast Guard encourages the public to: 

· Stay off the water. The Coast Guard’s search and rescue capabilities degrade as storm conditions strengthen. This means help could be delayed. Boaters should heed weather watches, warnings, and small craft advisories. 

· Evacuate as necessary. If mandatory evacuations are set for an area, the public should evacuate without delay. Coast Guard personnel and other emergency responders may not be able to evacuate or rescue those in danger during the storm. 

· Secure belongings. Owners of large boats are urged to move their vessels to inland marinas where they will be less vulnerable to breaking free of their moorings or sustaining damage. Trailer-able boats should be pulled from the water and stored in a place that is not prone to flooding. Those who are leaving their boats in the water are reminded to remove EPIRBs and to secure life rings, lifejackets, and small boats. These items, if not properly secured, can break free and require valuable search and rescue resources be diverted to ensure people are not in distress. 

· Stay clear of beaches. Wave heights and currents typically increase before a storm makes landfall. Even the best swimmers can fall victim to the strong waves and rip currents caused by tropical storms. Swimmers should stay clear of beaches until local lifeguards and law enforcement officials say the water is safe. 

· Stay informed. The public should monitor the progress and strength of the storm through local television, radio, and the Internet. Information can also be obtained on small craft advisories and warnings on VHF radio channel 16. 

For the most current information on port condition updates in North Carolina visit  

More weather information on Tropical Storm Ophelia progress can be found at