More than a dozen members of a Nova Scotia-built replica vessel abandoned ship off the coast of North Carolina after getting caught in the high seas brought on by Hurricane Sandy.
The Coast Guard received word that the crew of the HMS Bounty abandoned ship today about 90 miles southeast of Hatteras, N.C.
The 17 person crew donned cold-water survival suits and life jackets before launching in two 25-man lifeboats with canopies. As of 8:15 a.m. EDT a Coast Guard Jayhawk helicopter had hoisted five crewmembers from the lifeboats, the CBC reported.
The ship was reportedly taking on water and was without propulsion. It sank several hours after the evacuation. Weather at the scene was reported to be 40-mph winds and 18-foot seas, according to the Coast Guard.
Coast Guard Sector North Carolina initially received a call from the owner of the 180-foot, three-mast tall ship, saying she had lost communication with the boat’s crew late Sunday evening.
Claudia McCann, whose husband is the captain of the Bounty, told CBC News she hadn't slept since she received word the ship was taking on water.
She said her husband, Capt. Robin Walbridge, was trying to get around Hurricane Sandy en route to Florida.
"He was just trying to avoid it, skirt it. Skirt through it, skirt around it," McCann said today.
"I'm sure he's devastated. Absolutely devastated. But the crew comes first, and you have to save the crew."