Clearwater Coast Guard crew helps rescue 6 stranded off Great Inagua coast, search for 2 still missing

A Coast Guard rescue crew from Clearwater is helping in the search and rescue of eight people who were stranded early Tuesday morning off the coast of Great Inagua.

The U.S. Coast Guard Southeast said a helicopter crew from Air Station Clearwater deployed to rescue six of the people who were found floating on two life rafts. Officials with the USCG Southeast said a distress alert came early in the morning.

"The initial alert came through our Atlantic area watch standers early this morning, and then we launched around 6 a.m.," Diana Sherbs, USCG petty officer second class, said.

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Video from the Clearwater crew shows the rescue of six of the boaters around 8 a.m. on Tuesday. However, USCG officials said two people are still missing.


Officials said the group’s 90-foot schooner De Gallant sank 20 miles off the coast of Great Inagua.

"The crew of the De Gallant, were sailing food items from Santa Maria, Colombia to Azores, Portugal, and they have been underway since May 10," Sherbs said.

Sherbs said six of the eight people were located among a field of debris. They were seen wearing bright yellow survival suits.

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"They capture water, and then your body keeps the water warm and helps you survive through the waters a little bit longer than you would if you didn't have them," Sherbs said.


She said crews spent the day searching for the remaining two women in partnership with the Royal Bahamas Defense Force.

"There's a variety of elements that come into play in determining longevity and survivability," she said.

Sherbs said crews monitor weather conditions and water conditions, among a number of other factors. She said crews deployed on land, in the air and on the water.

"It's kind of like looking for a needle in a haystack, but we are hopeful that we can locate these two women," she said. "They were reportedly wearing the yellow survival suits. So, hopefully that does help."


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