Tuesday, Nov 16, 2010 – “The Bahamas Air Sea Rescue Association (BASRA) continues the search for Laura Zekoll”
– – From Caribbean 1500 News.
“Cruising Rally Association reported on Monday crew member search and rescue mission is continuing for sailing vessel Rule 62, crew member, Laura Zekoll. (Updated by Richard Ross at 3:30pm EST).
November 15, 2010…Cruising Rally Association (CRA), Hampton, VA…Steve Black, owner of Cruising Rally Association, announced today that crew member onboard sailing vessel Rule 62, Laura Zekoll from Atlanta, GA is the subject of a search and rescue mission by the US Coast Guard and The Bahamas Air Sea Rescue Association (BASRA).
The news of the search was received by CRA mid-day on Sunday, November 14, 2010 from boat owner, Richard Ross. The emergency contact information for Laura Zekoll, was communicated to the Coast Guard who notified her contact that a search was in process. The notice of the search was shared with the fleet on Monday morning, during the radio check-in at 07:00 hours AST (Atlantic Standard Time).
The owners of sailing vessel Rule 62, Richard and Debra Ross, also from Atlanta, GA, communicated earlier that they had made a decision to leave the fleet and divert to the Bahamas. During the radio check-in on Saturday at 19:00 hours AST, Richard reported a position near the Bahamas. According to the satellite transponder provided by the CRA to each vessel in the fleet, Rule 62 had stopped moving when the transponder reported at 20:56 hours AST Saturday, November 13.
Black said, “with great sadness, we report that Rule 62, a Jeanneau 46DS, was swamped while attempting entry into the Bahamas. Richard and crew Laura Zekoll were washed overboard and recovered. The life raft was launched. Richard, Debra, Laura, and a fourth crew member, David Sheppard from Ellsworth, Maine entered the life raft with life jackets on and attempted to row it to safety. The life raft subsequently overturned in swells. Richard, Debra, and David were separated from Laura and washed up on the beach”
Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the U.S. Coast Guard ended its search for the Laura Zekoll, 46, of Atlanta, Georgia.The Coast Guard employed a Jayhawk helicopter, Dolphin helicopter and C-130 airplane in its search and rescue mission. Chief Petty Officer Russell Tippets of the 7th Coast Guard District located in Miami, Florida stated, “After 25 hours of searching and covering more than 1,600 square miles, our search and rescue coordinators felt they had done everything possible to find this missing person.”
The boat is currently on a reef in the Bahamas. Richard and Debra Ross and Sheppard were airlifted to safety after their emergency signal was received by the Coast Guard.
The sailing vessel Rule 62, is part of a fleet of 65 sailing vessels, the majority of the fleet is still at sea. The fleet departed Hampton, VA on November 8, 2010 in route to the island of Tortola in the British Virgin Islands. Eleven other boats left Hampton VA in the Bahamas Class headed for Marsh Harbor. This is the 21st year of the annual passage.”
Laura is a sailor and CEO & Founder at Advantage Computer Age, a website design company based in Atlanta. Friends and family took part in a vigil Tuesday evening at Saint Mark United Methodist Church in Midtown, lighting candles as it concluded.
In their SailBlog, the crew of S/V Sunrise who also participated in the Caribbean 1500 wrote, “Our hearts really go out to them as we had a taste of what they must have gone through. We diverted after only 24 hours, they were out for 5 days in very rough conditions, which is exhausting. We were able to let the Monitor Wind Vane steer, the four on Rule 62 had to hand steer for two days after their Autopilot failed (we heard them trying to trouble shoot it with another boat on the SSB). Hand steering in a big swell and gale conditions is physically exhausting. We had daylight to make our inlet, they were in the dark. We had current, wind and waves with us: Rule 62 had the current against the waves and wind… something that creates what the Bahamians call a “Rage”, very intense conditions.”
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