ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – There were some scary moments Wednesday night for a man and a woman who were sailing around the world but got trapped in the waters off Atlantic City.
The Coast Guard rescued them after their sailboat capsized. The high winds whipped up the ocean water, making the rescue difficult.
“It happened so fast. Sixty seconds.”
The situation seemed dire for Peter Bailey and Heidi Snyder. They were sailing from South Carolina to New York – the last leg of a trip from the Bahamas, when their 55-foot wooden sailboat “Bertie” tipped over after an explosive storm came out of nowhere 65 miles east of Atlantic City.
“We got hit with a microburst, which is a very, very strong wind that comes down vertically,” said Bailey. “It turned the boat completely upside down. We had no time to grab anything.”
The managed to grab a paddleboard, but the sun was setting and they were worrid about hypothermia setting in.
“I was shivering. I hope they get here before it’s too late,” Bailey said.
The couple got their hands on a beacon to light the way for the Coast Guard, which transmitted a distress signal.
The Coast Guard launched a helicopter from Atlantic City and a plane from North Carolina. After three hours of hanging on, the couple says they finally saw the Coast Guard helicopter heading their way, with ony brave man ready to jump in to get them.
“They showed up, went into a nice hover, came down, dropped the rescue swimmer. That’s the hero for you: Drops into black water in the middle of the night to help other people.”
The Coast Guard received an Electronic Positioning Indicating Radio Beacon [EPIRB] alert, which helped them find the couple. They were clinging to the hull of their boat.
“When our helicopter arrived on-scene, the crew followed a blinking strobe light and discovered a man and a woman clinging to the hull of their capsized sailboat,” said Lt. Tyler Bittner.
The helicopter hoisted them to safety.
“This was an extremely challenging hoist due to on-scene conditions, but the entire crew came together to work as a team to get the job done,” said Lt. Anthony Monteforte, one of the helicopter pilots. “I am extremely proud of my crew and all of the other assets that aided in this rescue and thankful that the survivors onboard used a currently registered EPIRB so that we could quickly locate them.”
They were taken to rescue crews waiting on the ground.
The couple says they were essentially sailing from location to location around the world, and everything they owned was on the boat. They’re hoping the boat insurance they took out will cover it.