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Emergency beacon saves fishermen
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CLEARWATER - An emergency radio that broadcasts an endangered boat's location may have saved two lives Jan. 5, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

It was late at night when the Coast Guard was alerted to a disabled boat 67 miles west of Clearwater Beach, said Coast Guard Capt. Michael Emerson. He said the 35-foot Fishin Chips, a commercial fishing boat, had lost power and was helpless against 10-foot seas and 30-knot winds.

The boat, with two fishermen aboard, had been swamped by a wave. Its engine and batteries were dead. Owner Harold Lansing of Odessa said there were two crewmen aboard who were returning to dock at John's Pass. Without the flooded battery banks, he said, his crew was unable to use their radio or pumps.

The boat's Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon was activated and broadcast an alert using its own battery.

A helicopter was deployed from the Coast Guard station at Clearwater-St. Petersburg Airport. A rescue swimmer was dropped alongside of Fishin Chips who delivered a pump and helped pump water out of the boat.

The helicopter pilot then guided another boat to the scene which provided a spare battery to the disabled boat.
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