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Boaters rescued after 8 hours in rough seas

The father and son had been warned of a small craft advisory, but decided to go ahead anyway.

By JAMIE JONES, Times Staff Writer
Published October 16, 2003

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A man and his son were stranded for more than eight hours in rough seas after the engine on their 34-foot sailboat failed at about 5:30 a.m. Wednesday, authorities said.

The U.S. Coast Guard quickly located the men about 45 miles northwest of Tarpon Springs and began towing them to shore at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.

No injuries were reported, said Petty Officer Rob Suddarth. The identities of the two had not been confirmed late Wednesday. They were thought to be from Louisiana.

The man's sailboat, Linda Loo, was tossed around by 6 to 8 foot waves and 25 mph winds. The sails may have been damaged by the winds, Suddarth said.

The Coast Guard got its first call from the boat about 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, when the captain informed an officer that he and his son were sailing from Tarpon Springs to Apalachicola, said spokesman Rod Suddarth.

The captain told the officers that he was worried about his engine, and he wanted them to know where he was, Suddarth said. The watch commander informed him of a small craft advisory because of rough seas and suggested he reconsider his trip. But the man decided to continue, Suddarth said.

At about 5:30 a.m. Wednesday, the Coast Guard received an electronic distress signal from the boat and sent a helicopter to check on it, Suddarth said.

After verifying that the man and his son were okay, they learned that the sailboat's engine had stalled. Officers dispatched a 47-foot rescue boat from Station Sand Key, which began towing the sailboat to shore.

"It was definitely not great weather," Suddarth said. "But there's not a lot we can do when people want to go out."


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