Three people were plucked from a sinking sailboat in the waters 50 miles south of Balboa, Panama on Monday, thanks to the combined efforts of the United States Coast Guard, a Liberian tanker, and a Panamanian amateur radio operator.
Following a fire onboard, the 42 ft sailing vessel Even Star, under way from California in route to Panama, began taking on water Saturday. The boats pumps were unable to curtail the incoming sea waters.
At 4:15 AM Sunday morning the U.S. Coast Guard 11th District Rescue Coordination Center in Alameda, California detected a distress signal from a 406 Mhz Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) which was registered to the Even Star.
A check by Coast Guard personnel revealed that the tanker MT / Glenda Meryl was approximately 30 miles away from the sinking vessel. With the help of an amateur radio operator in Panama, the Coast Guard was able to guide the 600 ft Liberian flagged tanker to the area of the sailboat.
The Glenda Meryl is a 47,250 DWT oil and chemical tanker is co-owned by the Italian firms of D'Amico International Shipping and Glencore. She is a participating ship in the Coast Guard's Automatic Mutual Assistance Vessel Rescue (AMVER) program.
The tanker arrived at 5:23 PM. The ships Master, Captain Singh deployed a lifeboat and rescue party, who safely recovered the Even Star sailors, who were now adrift in a raft. All three were U.S. citizens. They were transported to Balboa, Panama where they were met by Panamanian officials.
The ham radio operator credited with assisting with communications and coordination of rescue efforts has not been identified, but is reported to be a member of the Panamanian Air Force.