On Monday morning, Feb. 21, with the help of Virgin Islands Search Rescue in the British Virgin Islands and from the UK Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre, the Coast Guard ended its search of British rower, Jack Jarvis due to the rower’s Emergency Positioning Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) being activated accidentally.
Jarvis, 28, from Hampshire, United Kingdom, was rowing across the Atlantic Ocean from Portugal to Miami aboard his 23-foot vessel Budgie and was approximately 360 nautical miles east northeast of Puerto Rico when Coast Guard watchstanders at Sector San Juan received a report from Virgin Islands Search Rescue in the British Virgin Islands and from the UK Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre regarding an unlocated 406MHz Emergency Positioning Indicating Radio Beacon alert.
The report also confirmed that the emergency contact belonged to the vessel Budgie with one passenger aboard, Jack Jarvis.
The Coast Guard was able to track the vessel via a tracking link provided by the emergency contact, which knew Budgie’s last known position as of 4 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 20. In addition, Coast Guard watchstanders issued an Emergency Group Calling to vessel traffic in the area and diverted a Coast Guard HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircraft from Air Station Cape Cod to search for the vessel Budgie.
“This was a tremendous search effort which highlights the importance of registering your EPIRB as well as the great cooperation with our partners from Virgin Islands Search and Rescue and United Kingdom MRCC, who coordinated with us to locate Mr. Jarvis,” said Cmdr. Beau Powers, Sector San Juan chief of response.
On Sunday at 10:52 p.m. AST, the Coast Guard HC-144 aircrew located the Budgie but could not establish contact with passenger Jarvis, even after multiple attempts on VHF radio, launching flares, and completing low passes over the vessel. However, the aircrew was able to see that Budgie’s lights were illuminated, at which point they deployed a Self-Locating Datum Marker Buoy (SLDMB), a device used to measure the surface ocean currents that could assist rescue specialists in planning a search for a possible person in the water.
A St. Vincent and Grenadines cargo ship, the Dyna Bulk, also responded to the Emergency Group Calling and responded to check up on the position of Budgie. A Coast Guard HC-130 aircraft from Air Station Clearwater, Fla. also joined the search.
“I commend our watchstanders and aircraft crew for their professionalism and out-of-the-box thinking and extend our thanks and appreciation to the M/V Dyna Bulk, which was ready to help us once they received the distress notification. We also appreciate the involvement and cooperation of Mr. Jarvis’ support team and wish him the best in completing the journey across the Atlantic Ocean,” said Cmdr. Beau Powers.
It was reported to Jarvis’ support team by Coast Guard watchstanders on Monday morning that Jarvis was not in distress and that the EPIRB alert was due to accidental activation. Watchstanders have established a communications schedule with Jarvis’ support team until he safely reaches his destination in Miami.