Trans-Atlantic Rower Rescued 530 Miles off Cape Cod

The Coast Guard coordinated the rescue of a man aboard ocean rowboat Alba on Friday, June 15, after he activated his emergency position indicating radio beacon about 530 miles off the coast of Cape Cod. At the time of the rescue, the weather conditions were 10-foot seas and 26-knot winds.

Niall Macdonald triggered his EPIRB around 12:30 a.m. Friday, June 15, alerting Coast Guard watchstanders to his distress.

Due to sporadic connectivity, Macdonald was able to call watchstanders at the United Kingdom Mission Control Center via satellite phone. He reported facing 36 hours of rough seas causing his rowboat to take on water. He abandoned the ocean rower for his life raft.

Watchstanders from the First Coast Guard District in Boston coordinated with the United Kingdom Mission Control Center to relay satellite phone messages. Coast Guard watchstanders sent out an urgent marine bulletin to vessels in the area requesting assistance and coordinated with the Rescue Coordination Center in Halifax, Canada, to launch a Canadian C-130 aircraft to assist in the rescue due to the distance offshore. 

Coast Guard watchstanders also coordinated with Maritime Rescue Coordination Center Rome to divert the nearby Italian Naval warship, Alpino, to assist in rescuing Macdonald, but the ship was 80 miles away.

Responding to the urgent marine broadcast, the crew of motor vessel Dolfijngracht, a Netherlands-flagged vessel, arrived on scene with Alba at 5:00 a.m. and found Macdonald in a life raft, tired, but in good condition.

Macdonald will be sailing with Dolfijngracht’s crew to their next port call in Canada.

It was reported that Macdonald had an EPIRB, a personal locator beacon, satellite phone, VHF radio, navigation lights, flares, immersion suit, life jacket, and a transportable kit with other items to help him survive in an emergency.