Bay Sailor Rescued by Coast Guard Returns to Thank his Heroes

A sailor who was rescued from his sinking boat earlier this summer got a chance to thank the U.S. Coast Guard team who saved his life.

Jacob Van Ommen, who is 80 years old, ran aground on his 30-foot sailboat, Fleetwood, near Myrtle Island in Virginia, around 4:00 a.m. back on June 23.

When the boat started taking on water, Van Ommen issued a mayday call on VHF channel 16, triggered an SOS alert via personal GPS device and launched a life raft as the boat sank.

The Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City sent a MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew to the sinking boat, and deployed a rescue swimmer to hoist Van Ommen from his life raft.

Van Ommen got to meet face to face with his rescuers, both watchstanders and the rescue swimmer who plucked him from the water, on Coast Guard Base Portsmouth on August 16.

“I am very grateful for the excellent and professional response of the U.S. Coast Guard,” Van Ommen said.

-Meg Walburn Viviano