Coast Guard Rescues Over-Ambitious Transatlantic Rowboater Off Barnegat Light

Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class David Micallef/USCG Petty Officer 2nd Class Eric Thornton (right), a surfman at Coast Guard Station Barnegat Light, poses for a photo with Duncan Hutchison, who was rescued Monday, June 4.

You never know what a Monday morning at work is going to bring. U.S. Coast Guard crews from Station Barnegat Light were called out to an unusual ocean rescue June 4 – a man was attempting to row a boat to Scotland. He was rescued about 20 miles east of Barnegat Light.

The weather on-scene was reported to be 21 mph winds and 8½-foot seas, the Coast Guard reported. Station Barnegat Light launched its 47-foot motor life boat (MLB) to respond.

“Once on scene, the Coast Guard boat crew removed the 52-year-old man (Duncan Hutchison) from the rowboat and transferred him to the MLB,” said the USCG 5th District Public Affairs Detachment.

Station Barnegat Light had been notified by Coast Guard Sector Delaware Bay. Watchstanders at Sector Delaware Bay had gotten a distress call via VHF-FM channel 16 “from the operator of the rowboat Sleipnir that it was beset by bad weather while attempting a transatlantic voyage from New York to Scotland.”

Other published reports said the man had embarked from New York.

On Facebook, reactions were mixed among thankfulness that the man was rescued, to comments such as “who rows across the Atlantic in a rowboat?”

The post-rescue statement from the Coast Guard was this: “It was great to use my skills as a Surfman to navigate the heavy seas and wind, and my crew did an outstanding job making this a successful rescue,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Eric Thornton, the coxswain on the MLB.

“We highly recommended always checking the weather before departing on any ocean excursion because conditions can change instantly. Thankfully the operator was well prepared and hailed us on his VHF marine radio on channel 16. We were able to pinpoint his location by using our Rescue 21 radio system, and that saved his life.”

—M.S.

Reposted from The Sandpaper