Entries in Yacht (15)


California Yacht Club Mourns Member Killed in Sail Boat Race

U.S. Coast Guard(SAN DIEGO) -- A California yacht club on Sunday mourned the death of one of its members who was killed in a sail boat race over the weekend.

Craig Thomas Williams, a 36-year-old married father, was killed and five crew members were injured when their sailboat, christened Uncontrollabe Urge, lost steering and broke apart in the surf.

"[Williams] was a very integral member at our yacht club and it's a tragic loss," said Carey Storm, the commodore of the Silver Gate Yacht Club.

"To have one of our top racers to go out and for a weekend of a competitive race and have it end in tragedy, the loss of life, the loss of… injuries, the trauma to the entire crew, the loss of the vessel…It's just really difficult," Storm told ABC News' San Diego affiliate.

The Uncontrollable Urge was one of 40 vessels in the annual Islands Race, fighting to make their way along a 139-nautical mile course from Long Beach to San Diego.

A mayday call was issued by crew on board the 30-foot sail boat around 9:26 p.m. Friday after the boat's rudder failed, according to a news release from the U.S. Coast Guard.

"The crew initially stated they were not in need of assistance and declined assistance from both the Coast Guard and other boaters involved in the race.  The sailors requested assistance from a commercial salvage company, however they were unable to launch due to weather conditions," the release said.

An attempt to anchor the boat around 11 p.m. failed, the Coast Guard said, and the boat drifted closer to San Clemente Island.

When the boat entered the crashing surf, the sailors were forced to abandon the vessel.

A helicopter crew rescued the six sailors and took them to a Coast Guard station where they were met by paramedics, however, officials said Williams was dead on arrival.

Chuck Hope, commodore of the San Diego Yacht Club, one of the sponsors of the race, said it could have been much worse.

"This was an excellently prepared boat," he said.  "The fact that we didn't lose six was a testament to the fact that they did have safety equipment on board.  They followed the procedures.  It could've been a much worse scenario."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Three Children Dead After NY Yacht Capsizes off Long Island

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Three children died and 24 people were rescued after a yacht bringing passengers out to view a Fourth of July fireworks display capsized in the waters off Long Island, N.Y.

The boat capsized late Wednesday night as a result of weather and a wake from another vessel on the water, Nassau County Police Insp. Kenneth Lack said.  The 24 passengers were rescued from the Long Island Sound after the boat capsized around 11 p.m. in the vicinity of Oyster Bay.

The first person to be found dead in the water was discovered shortly after the distress call came in.  Two others were located in the vessel hours after it sank by divers, Lack said early Thursday morning.  The identities and ages of the victims have not been released.

"It was a lot of people in the water," Lack said.  "It was a tremendous response by multiple agencies.  Most of the people were taken into other crafts very quickly.  Tragically, three people did not make it out of the Silverton vessel."

Two 25-foot rescue boat crews from Coast Guard Station Eaton's Neck, along with rescue teams from the Nassau County Police Department, Oyster Bay Constable, Tow Boat U.S., and several local fire departments aided in the rescue efforts, according to a statement from the U.S. Coast Guard.

A total of 27 people were originally aboard the 34-foot Silverton vessel, according to authorities.

Police are now investigating whether the vessel sank because of overcrowding. Some of the passengers aboard the boat had life jackets, while others did not, Lack said.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Rabbis Work Out Truce Between Missing Florida Millionaire's Mom, Wife

Missing Florida millionaire Guma Aguiar's mother Ellen Aguiar (L) and wife Jamie Aguiar (R). ABC News(FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.) -- Two rabbis helped facilitate a truce between missing millionaire Guma Aguiar's feuding mother and wife, who took their $100 million battle to a Florida courtroom on Thursday.

Aguiar, 35, vanished last Wednesday; his 31-foot fishing boat washed up on a Fort Lauderdale beach with the engine running and lights on, but with no sign of its Brazilian-born owner.

In the days following Aguiar's disappearance, his wife, Jamie, and mother, Ellen, filed five legal documents fighting for control of his assets, valued at over $100 million.  Aguiar has actively supported Jewish charitable organizations.

While Aguiar's wife wanted control, his mother was fighting for control to be handed over to a third party -- Northern Trust, a wealth management company selected by Aguiar to take care of his assets should anything ever happen to him.

A court hearing to appoint conservatorship was expected Thursday evening.  But earlier on Thursday, two rabbis and a congregant, who made up a committee formed by Aguiar as a group of advisors, kicked into place a legal mechanism that gave Northern Trust control of the assets.  The court agreed to it.

"Without putting out one shred of evidence, what my client wanted happened serendipitously," Ellen Aguiar's attorney, Richard Baron, told ABC News after the hearing.

A representative for Northern Trust could not accept control immediately, saying the company's lawyers had to approve the move first.  The parties will be back in court on Tuesday for Northern Trust's decision.

If Northern Trust accepts, it will have control of all of Aguiar's U.S. assets, valued at more than $50 million.  But control of his millions in Israeli assets is still up for grabs; the Florida court did not have control over international assets.

For now, both parties agreed to the truce.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Florida Millionaire Missing After Empty Yacht Washes Ashore

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.) -- Florida millionaire and philanthropist Guma Aguiar is missing after his yacht washed ashore with the ignition running and lights on, but with no sign of its Brazilian-born owner.

Fort Lauderdale, Fla., police responded to a report of a beached boat early Wednesday morning and police identified Aguiar, 35, as the owner of the 31-foot vessel.

After finding his boat, authorities went to Aguiar's home to speak to his wife Jamie Aguiar.  She said that when she arrived home the night before, she believed her husband was in the home office, according to police.

One of the couple's employees told Jamie Aguiar that her husband had actually gone out on his boat at around 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

"No one has seen Guma since," Fort Lauderdale police wrote in a statement.  "Jamie told officers that she is concerned for her husband's safety."

The U.S. Coast Guard, the Broward County Sheriff's Office and the Fort Lauderdale Police Marine Units are searching for Aguiar.  Police believe he is "endangered" and have said they are not ruling anything out at this point.

Though the boat's engine was running and lights were on, one important piece of the boat was broken -- the tie rod, experts at Sea Tow, the company that towed Aguiar's boat from the beach, told ABC News' Miami affiliate WPLG.  The rod holds the boat's two motors parallel and without the rod, the boat could lose control, which may have knocked him overboard.

Guma Aguiar's mother would like to hope for the best, but she is realistic about the fate her son may have met.

"I would be delighted to hear that he was kidnapped and being taken great care of, and I believe in miracles and would hope for a miracle.  I think, realistically, what happened is pretty clear," Ellen Aguiar told ABC News.  "The likelihood is that he was tossed off the boat into the waves.  The boat was found, but the body has not been found."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


NJ Yacht Hoax Linked to Texas Prank

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- The Coast Guard announced today that the hoax distress call made on June 11 by a man claiming to be the captain of a yacht that exploded off the coast of Sandy Hook, N.J., was linked to another hoax call made in Texas on May 20.

The case of the Houston-area vessel, the Skylark, came to the attention of New York area Coast Guard investigators only recently because the incident had been classified as unresolved rather than a hoax. The smaller-scale hoax, a distress call for six people, had many similarities to the Sandy Hook call, which involved more than 20 people.

Both calls came from a land-based radio, both specifically contacted a specific Coast Guard radio channel, and both came over a VHF frequency.

Special Agent Michael Donnelly of the Coast Guard Investigative Service said there were clear linguistic similarities between the calls. The voices were almost identical, and the person speaking used nautical expressions such as "taking on water" and referred to the passengers onboard as "souls."

The rescue effort in Sandy Hook cost more than $85,000 and occupied the time of more than 200 responders as well as a fleet of helicopters and boats.

The New York Coast Guard believes the Sandy Hook call originated from an area that stretches from northern Staten Island to the George Washington Bridge. The size of the area makes it unlikely the investigation will find the prankster, so the Coast Guard is calling on the public to help, offering a $3,000 reward for information leading to the prosecution of the offender.

If found and convicted, the offender could face up to six years in prison.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


LISTEN: NJ Yacht Explosion Hoax Distress Call Released

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The U.S. Coast Guard has released audio recordings of the distress call made by a man claiming to be the captain of a yacht that had exploded off the coast of Sandy Hook, N.J. The call prompted the costly deployment of over 200 responders and a fleet of helicopters and boats into the Atlantic Ocean, before it proved to be a hoax.

In an early transmission, the man calmly told the Coast Guard, "We have three deceased, nine injured. We've had an explosion on-board that's why we're taking on water. I'm in about three-and-a-half feet of water on the bridge right now."

In an ensuing dispatch, the man contradicted his earlier transmission by saying, "We have 21 souls on-board, 20 in the water right now." He added, "I'm going to stay on the radio for as long as I can before I have to go overboard."

The recording contained five separate transmissions totaling almost a minute and a half.

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He also said that everyone had life jackets and that distress beacons were on-board.

The caller displayed some basic nautical knowledge, saying that his electronic communications array was down, which is why he called via solar radio. He also had fairly precise coordinates for their location, saying they were 17.5 miles east of Sandy Hook.

The last transmission cuts off ominously, with the caller saying "I'm dealing with 2nd and 3rd degree…" He was presumably speaking about burns suffered by the supposed victims of the explosion.

The U.S. Coast Guard has launched an investigation into a yacht explosion hoax call made by the realistic-sounding "captain."

The prankster faces a maximum of five to 10 years in prison for the federal crime, a $250,000 fine and a reimbursement to the government for the cost of the search.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Yacht Explosion Hoaxster Was 'Captain' About to Jump Ship

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The U.S. Coast Guard has launched an investigation into a yacht explosion hoax call made by a realistic-sounding "captain" that sent a costly armada of over 200 responders and a fleet of helicopters on a wild goose chase in the Atlantic Ocean.

"We're taking this potential hoax very seriously," Capt. Gregory P. Hitchen of the Coast Guard said at a news conference Tuesday. "We're offering a $3,000 reward for any information assisting us to find the perpetrator of this hoax."

"This person put the public at risk and put our first responders at risk. It's always dangerous to launch a helicopter over the Atlantic for a search," Hitchen said. "More importantly, we diverted several first responders in the area...from actual search and rescue areas to look for a vessel that had not actually sunk."

At 4:20 p.m. on Monday, a radio caller told the Coast Guard that there had been an explosion on a yacht called the Blind Date, located about 17.5 miles off the coast of Sandy Hook, N.J.

The caller reported that seven of the 21 passengers had suffered serious burns. The caller said that all of the passengers had evacuated the ship and were in life boats.

But after an extensive search, rescue boats and helicopters couldn't find a trace of the vessel or any victims.

"We became concerned that we saw no indication of life rafts or a sunken vessel," Hitchen said. "When they arrived on scene, they should have seen life rafts, which are usually orange and red. They should have seen smoke and probably an oil slick."

Hitchen said that while there are over 300 fake cases per year in the northeastern U.S., the caller reporting the incident made this one unique.

"There was a certain amount of detail in the call that we don't normally encounter with other hoax calls," Hitchen said. "This person was somewhat calm, but giving us a convincing story."

"We had a specific number of people on-board, who had injuries, a blow by blow on how the boat was filling up with water," he said.

The male caller said he was the captain of the ship and that the vessel was sinking. At least two calls were placed before the caller said he was getting in a life raft and transmissions stopped.

"I've been here since 2007 and this is the biggest hoax in regard to the number of helicopters and folks who had actually responded to the scene," Hitchen said.

The prankster now faces a maximum of five to 10 years in prison for the federal crime, a $250,000 fine and a reimbursement to the government for the cost of the search.

The total cost to the Coast Guard was initially determined to be $88,000 and rising. This figure doesn't include the city's costs from deploying the New York Police Department and the Fire Department of New York, which Hitchen estimated was equal to or greater than the cost to the Coast Guard.

Officials believe the distress call originated over land in New Jersey or southern New York. The call was made from a radio, not a cell phone, and was only picked up by one antenna, making it impossible to pinpoint the exact origin of the call.

By 10 p.m. on Monday, the active search was suspended with "clear indication that it was some sort of probable hoax," Hitchen said.

"Even if we think a case is a potential hoax, we always go in with the assumption that it is not. We do not want to under-react to an actual emergency," he said.

When asked what the motive could be for the prank, Hitchen said, "Some people just want attention. That's usually the biggest reason. They like to see all the response and active search for something they caused...It's very strange."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Was Yacht Explosion Off NJ Coast an Elaborate Hoax?

ABC News(SANDY HOOK, N.J.) -- After several hours of intense searching, authorities were unable to turn up any sign of an incident or survivors from a reported yacht explosion in the Atlantic Ocean off Sandy Hook, N.J., which led investigators to believe that the distress call was a hoax -- one that cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars for emergency personnel.

A caller told the Coast Guard Monday afternoon that there had been an explosion on a yacht called Blind Date, and nine of the 21 passengers had received severe burns.  All the passengers had gotten off the ship and were in life boats, the caller said.  But after an extensive search, rescue boats and helicopters couldn't find a trace of the vessel or any victims.

A massive search and rescue operation was quickly launched Monday after the call came in.  Multiple state and federal agencies, including the coast guard, dispatched seven helicopters to locate the boat and victims.  Emergency medical technicians set up a staging area on the shore and nearby ships raced to the scene -- but nothing turned up.

"This case is now being investigated as a possible hoax call," the Coast Guard said in a statement released Monday evening.

Making a false distress call is a federal felony with a maximum penalty of five to 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and reimbursement to the Coast Guard for the cost of performing the search.

Former FBI agent and ABC News consultant Brad Garrett says that that rescue teams are trained to swiftly spring to action when cases like this are reported.

"If you have a report like that and you believe it's credible, the Coast Guard in particular will scramble to go look for people in distress," Garrett said.

This isn't the first time such a hoax has happened, and it may be part of the trend of 'SWATing' pranks, where emergency personnel are called into action for fictitious events while the caller watches. Last June, the Coast Guard spent 10 hours and $88,000 on a frantic search after receiving a distress call about a sunken sailboat -- also off of Sandy Hook.

Swatters are usually young computer hackers working alone or in groups, according to FBI officials.  Though often their choice of target is calculated, it is sometimes completely random.

On Tuesday, the search will continue in Sandy Hook and beyond -- not for a boat in distress, but for the perpetrator of the hoax.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Mystery at Sea: Search Called Off; Yacht Explosion Report Likely a Hoax

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(SANDY HOOK, N.J.) -- The Coast Guard called off the search Monday evening for a reported yacht explosion in the Atlantic Ocean about 17.5 miles east of Sandy Hook, N.J., saying the call is now being investigated as a hoax.

A caller had told the Coast Guard that there had been an explosion on a yacht called Blind Date, and nine of the 21 passengers had received severe burns. All the passengers had gotten off the boat and were in life boats, the caller said.

But after an extensive search, neither a flotilla of rescue boats nor a flight of helicopters could find any evidence of the vessel Blind Date or any wreckage from an explosion, according to the Coast Guard. No victims had been found, either.

"This case is now being investigated as a possible hoax call," the Coast Guard said in a statement released Monday evening.

Making a false distress call is a federal felony with a maximum penalty of five to 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and reimbursement to the Coast Guard for the cost of performing the search.

"More than 200 first responders assembled mass casualty receptions areas in Newark, and Coast Guard Station Sandy Hook, N.J., preparing to receive the reported injured passengers," said Cmdr. Kenneth Pierro, of Coast Guard Sector New York.

Two Coast Guard boat crews and four Coast Guard helicopter crews searched approximately 638 square nautical miles in response to the call.

Response units from New York City Police Department, Fire Department of New York City, New Jersey State Police and Nassau County Police Department also conducted searches in the area.

"The explosion was reported to us by one of the people on board the vessel after it happened from a solar powered radio, because their electronics on board were destroyed during the explosion," Coast Guard Petty Officer Erik Swanson said.

Officials with several agencies involved in the search said told ABC News it is "highly unusual" to be unable to locate any debris or find any survivors when they receive such a clear position and respond as quickly as they did in this case.

ABC News reached the owners of the yachts Blind Date and Blind Date II, and both said their boats were not lost at sea. The owner of the Blind Date II, however, said there is another yacht called Blind Date that is moored in the Netherlands.

The Coast Guard offers a reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of anyone responsible for making a false distress or hoax call to the U.S. Coast Guard. Anyone with information regarding false distress calls is encouraged to anonymously contact the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service at 646-872-5774 or 212-668-7048.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


US Charges Somali Hostage Negotiator with Piracy

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Justice Department announced Wednesday that a man identified by Somali pirates as the person responsible for negotiating the ransom of four U.S. citizens held hostage on the high seas and then killed last February, has been indicted on piracy and kidnapping charges.

The justice department says Mohammad Shibin was apprehended in Somalia and transferred to the United States to stand trial.

Federal officials say Shibin was not among the 14 Somalia pirates who boarded the yacht with the four Americans, but instead worked behind the scenes to see how much cash could be extorted for their release.

Neil McBride, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, announced that the arrest marks "the first time the U.S. government has captured and charged an alleged pirate in the leadership role -- a hostage negotiator who operated in Somalia.”

While the U.S military was attempting to negotiate the release of the four hostages -- Scott Underwood Adam, Jean Savage Adam, Phyllis Patricia Macay and Robert Campbell Riggle -- the pirates on board the yacht shot and killed them.  The U.S. took the Somali pirates into custody following the shooting.

Shibin was indicted on March 8 in Virginia and appeared in federal court Wednesday.  The piracy and kidnapping charges each carry a maximum penalty of life in prison.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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