Stranded boaters from Honduras rescued near Cayman

Four men from Honduras were rescued Monday in waters about 30 miles southwest of Cayman after sending out an SOS signal when their boat’s engine failed.

According to police, the 911 Communications Centre received notice just after 4 p.m. that an SOS signal had been received by the International Emergency Response Coordination Center from a boat off Grand Cayman.

The SOS was sent by a locator beacon on the boat, but no other communication had been received or could be made with the vessel, police said.

When the police helicopter and Joint Marine vessel NivenD arrived at the area indicated by the beacon coordinates, the boat had drifted from its SOS location. The helicopter spotted the vessel at 5:10 p.m. The crew on board waved a red flag at the helicopter to indicate distress.

All four on board were found to be in good health, police said.

They left Honduras on Saturday on their 40-foot white fishing boat, which later had engine failure.

The boat and the men were brought to Grand Cayman.

Aside from the locator beacon which had activated an electronic SOS signal, the men had no other communication capabilities, since the card on their satellite phone had expired and the batteries for their VHF and long-range radios were drained, police said.

“Fortunately, the owner of this vessel had the foresight to install an added safety measure, in this case, an Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB), or this incident could have ended very differently,” said Inspector Leo Anglin, commander of the Joint Marine Unit. “It would have been very difficult to pinpoint where the vessel was located without any kind of information about their route or when they encountered difficulties. Their failure to arrive also may not have been noted for some period of time.”

The Joint Marine Unit reminded boat owners of the necessity to maintain as many communication capabilities on their vessels as possible, including satellite phones and a VHF radio, and also to consider additional safety measures, such as the EPIRB.

“An EPIRB has a different power source and is therefore the failsafe when other communication devices fail,” added Inspector Anglin. “Boat owners traveling long distances in particular should strongly consider this safety measure.”