Four sailors safe and sound after two weeks at sea - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Four sailors safe and sound after two weeks at sea

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) -

Coast Guard helicopter crews from Georgia rescued four people Friday from a disabled 35-foot sailboat 65 miles off the coast of Charleston.

Authorities say the helicopters airlifted the four sailors from the vessel and transported them to the Charleston Executive Airport on Johns Island.

The crew told authorities that they had set sail from Tortola in the British Virgin Islands two weeks ago, and two days into the trip they lost their engine.

"It had to with battery issues," said Clayton Stevens, a crew member and competitive sailor. "Once we lost battery power, we couldn't turn the engine over and then caput with everything."

"We had to had steer this boat after we lost our electronics for over 800 miles," said Joel Kreider, the captain of the vessel. " So, we were working all day, working all night trying to get there."

But then the main sail gave way and all they were left with was a satellite phone and a hand-held GPS.

"We had a little bit of a wind generator that was powering some of the necessary running lights and so forth, but we were in bad shape," said Kreider. "The boat was in tough shape."

The crew onboard the craft contacted authorities Thursday evening to report the vessel's engine was disabled. According to Coast Guard officials, emergency crews did not get to the boat until 10:30 a.m. on Friday due to weather conditions associated with Tropical Storm Andrea.

"When you're in 40, 50 knot winds with 15-to-20 feet rollers going through, it's an awesome experience, not one that I'd want to have again and again," said Kreider.

"The only thing that made this a little bit easier was the daylight," said Shaun Legas, a rescue swimmer for the U.S. Coast Guard. "Had it been night time it would have been a lot more challenging for us and for them."

The sailboat is still afloat. According to the crew, a salvage company will be going out to tow it in.

Copyright 2013 WCSC. All rights reserved.

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