VIDEO: ACR Electronics EPIRBs play role in rescue

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Emergency locator beacon manufacturer ACR Electronics is promoting the fact that its EPIRBs helped in the rescue of a liveaboard sailing couple who got into trouble offshore twice in six months.

Last October, the rudder of Len and Lisa Rorke’s 50-foot Beneteau Oceanis broke and drifted away, leaving the sailboat with no means of steering in 18-knot winds and 6-foot seas in the North Atlantic.

“We had not struck anything ... we were suddenly fighting to control our boat with no means of steering. We tried everything we could, and as luck would have it, the conditions gradually deteriorated,” Len Rorke said.

He activated their ACR GlobalFix iPRO EPIRB. The Coast Guard received the signal and coordinated their rescue with a local fishing trawler 20 miles away. The good Samaritans aboard the trawler pulled the Rorkes and their Jack Russell Terrier, Dexter, aboard and took them to safety with their boat in tow.

Less than six months later, in April, the couple, Dexter and crew mate Henri Worthalter were 13 days into crossing the Atlantic Ocean from the Turks and Caicos Islands, heading to the Mediterranean via the Azores.

Their journey ended with two days of gale-force winds and high seas that broke the rudder and aft bulkhead on their sailboat, The Blue Pearl.

“We were 950 nautical miles from the Azores and could not have been further from land if we tried,” Len Rorke said in a statement. “We had been battling heavy weather for a week, and the last two days of storms battered our boat so badly that it sank right in the middle of the North Atlantic in huge seas, strong winds and in the dead of night.”

Forced into a life raft 900 miles north of Bermuda, the couple watched as their home sank before their eyes. As fate would have it, their new EPIRB given to them just months before by ACR Electronics as part of the SurvivorClub program was put to proper use.

They activated the EPIRB once they got into their life raft, and within minutes the EPIRB sent the Coast Guard the exact location of the displaced crew. The Tilda Kosan, a 351-foot tanker, which was 32 nautical miles south of their position, diverted its course and six hours later rescued all aboard the life raft.

The second rescue also picked up international news coverage, including from Britain’s Daily Mail.

The Rorkes lost everything in the second disaster. A page has been set up for donations for them on GoFundMe.com.

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