When you’re a member of the U.S. Coast Guard, you usually expect to be the rescuer and not the rescuee.

Well, a pair of recreational scuba divers are alive this month because they made sure to take certain precautions before their dive.

Michael Sparks and Samuel Ragsdale, who serve in the Coast Guard, were diving near a wreck 50 feet/15 meters below the surface. The two divers had ridden Sparks’ 17-foot Seadoo Jetboat to a dive site eight miles off Atlantic Beach, North Carolina, according to an account of their dive and subsequent rescue on the Coast Guard’s blog.

During their dive, the boat’s anchor line broke and the Seadoo Jetboat drifted far enough away to make it impossible for the two men to get back to it.

What saved their lives was a relatively simple thing, Ragsdale told the Coast Guard blog:

“Before we went out on the dive, we told my roommate, James Sellers, where we were going and when we planned to return. Sparks sent a group text message to some of our Coast Guard friends at Station Fort Macon where we work. His message included the name of the wreck we were diving on, the wreck number, exact coordinates of our dive, and our intention to return by dark.”

Sparks said:

“My greatest fear was that we’d end up drifting southeast rather than northeast, which would send us around Cape Lookout into the Atlantic Ocean. This would greatly diminish our chances of being located. We just prayed we’d be found or that we’d wind up drifting onto the beach before the cape.”

When the two men didn’t return by nightfall, their Coast Guard friends realized the problem and immediately began a search based on the location the two had previously provided.

After seven hours, the rescuers found the two men alive and having drifted 4.5 miles/7 kilometers away from their original location.

Of his experience, Sparks said:

“The ocean doesn’t care if you’re in the Coast Guard. This kind of thing can happen to anyone.”

For the full story of their ordeal, check out the Coast Guard blog at coastguard.dodlive.mil.

(Photo credit: U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Nate Littlejohn)

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