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Monday, July 22, 2024


July 11, 2003 – It was the choppy waters churned up by Tropical Storm Claudette that led three University of the Virgin Islands marine science researchers to take the long way home after surveying corals in Botany Bay instead of motoring through the cut at Big Current Hole.
Those same rough seas were responsible for what they found as they came around Salt Cay shortly after noon on Wednesday en route back to the dock at UVI's MacLean Marine Science Center: two men and their Boston Whaler up against the treacherous rocks on the north side of the cay.
Once they figured out that the men were signaling for help and not just waving to be friendly, Center for Marine and Environmental Studies research analyst Steve Herzlieb, research assistant Shaun Kadison and student Alkin Paul maneuvered their dive boat, the Lady of the Islands, as close in as they could get among the rocks and threw a line to the stranded boaters.
With the line secured to the bow of the Whaler, the Lady of the Islands began towing the boat, with the two men inside it, toward the university campus. As they neared Fortuna Bay, a police motor vessel approached them, and it was only then that the UVI trio learned who it was that they had rescued.
The two boaters, cousins Alex Varlack, 21, and Mackiba Faulkner, 19, had set out from their home island of Anegada two days earlier to check their fish traps. The rough seas carried them 50 miles in a direction they didn't want to go, in an open boat that had no marine radio, cellular telephone, life jackets, flares or anchor aboard.
Their families reported them missing on Monday night, and marine authorities had been looking for them ever since.
The police vessel took over the task of towing the Anegadans' boat to safe harbor.
Later, describing the incident, Kadison said the two young men appeared to be in good shape and that "we were really surprised to hear that they had been out for over two days." Paul agreed: "They were strong. By the way they looked, I never would have thought they had been out for so long."
Herzlieb indicated that what the three had done was nothing exceptional. "Out on the water, that's just the way it is," he said. "If you see someone who needs help, you don't even think about it; you just do it."

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