After leaving Cartagena, Colombia on April 29th with a crew of two, less than 24 hours later, we hit a log before dawn which opened up the boat. We set off two separate distress calls using two different types of 406 EPIRBS. Three and a half hours after the boat sank, and while sitting in our raft, wondering if help would be coming, a Coast Guard C-130 flew overhead. They had a hard time locating us as the white caps (generated by winds in excess of 30 knots had generated significant waves in the range of 12 to 15 feet) made us hard to see.
After determining we were not injured, the crew vectored in a Russian tanker. The tanker maneuvered to create a lee which brought the waves down to about eight feet. A motor lifeboat launched from the ship and came out to rescue us.
Meanwhile, the Coast Guard C-130 number 1717 continued to circle above. The crew had promised to stay on station until we were "on a hard steel deck." After five hours and twenty minutes in an open raft in large seas, we climbed aboard the Tanker Liepaya. The Russian crew was extremely proud of their efforts as it was also Russian Orthodox Easter. We were very appreciative of their efforts and their hospitality. We were taken to Ponce, Peurto Rico, the ultimate destination of the ship.
There, my wife met us and took us to San Juan, Puerto Rico where she had clothes and other items waiting for us. Two weeks after the sinking I went to Clearwater, Florida to the Coast Guard Air Station where I was able to tell the crew my story; and more importantly, to meet the crew of C-130 1717 who flew the mission.
The Commanding Officer awarded me a certificate proclaiming me as an "Official Survivor".
What has happened since? Buzz got married and has seen his son Jon become a successful U.S. Navy Diver/EOD expert. Bob has seen his son Robert graduate from college. Thanks to the Coast Guard, I have: walked my daughter down the aisle; seen two grandsons born and grow; celebrated nine more wedding anniversaries; traveled extensively; captained many vessels and greatly enjoyed my retirement.
But for the actions of the United States Coast Guard and the crew of the tanker Liepaya, my crew and I would have disappeared from the face of the planet and our whereabouts would not have been known. The three of us have continued to live productive lives and we have all three removed the term "deferred gratification" from our vocabularies.
My wife and I are regular contributors to the Coast Guard Foundation which enhances our goal of supporting the Coast Guard.
Ron Landmann, Minden, NevadaMeet more members of the Coast Guard Foundation Community.