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3 sailors rescued; 2 still missing

Three sailors, including one from Sterling, Mass., and another from Dover, N.H., were rescued yesterday after their 45-foot sailboat began taking on water in rough seas about 400 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach, Va., US Coast Guard officials said.

Two other sailors who had abandoned the boat before the rescue attempt were missing last night, officials said. Lochlin Reidy of Woodbridge, Conn., and Thomas Tighe, of Patterson, N.Y., left the sailboat, the Almeisan, after 16- to 20-foot seas battered it, said Coast Guard Petty Officer Krys Hannum.

The other sailors, Christopher Ferrer of Sterling, Donald Burd of Dover, N.H., and Kathleen Gilchrist of Bloomfield, N.J., stayed aboard. They were airlifted to Nantucket, the closest land point, about 7:30 last night. None of those rescued could be reached last night for comment.

The Coast Guard received an electronic distress beacon from the boat at 6 a.m. Sunday, Hannum said. A C-130 airplane from Elizabeth City, N.C., searched the area and found a covered life raft, but the crew could not determine if anyone was aboard.

The first of four merchant ships to arrive after being diverted to the area found the life raft empty, Hannum said.

The three sailors on board the sailboat told the Coast Guard that Tighe and Reidy's life raft had snapped its tether and broken away from the boat.

The sailors were on a voyage from Bridgeport, Conn., to Bermuda when they encountered the severe weather, including 28- to 33-knot winds.

Three ships, in addition to a C-130 airplane, continued searching for Tighe and Reidy. Another C-130 from Clearwater, Fla., was en route last night. Several airplanes and helicopters were used in the search because of the distance from shore, Hannum said.

Meanwhile, the Coast Guard helped rescue four people yesterday from a demasted sailboat 240 miles east of Cape Hatteras, N.C.

Norm Pilkey, owner of the double-masted boat, Eskasoni, contacted the Coast Guard on Wednesday to report trouble with his masts. He had left the Chesapeake Bay with his wife, Phillippa, and two other men on Monday. The group was also headed to Bermuda.

Pilkey requested the four be evacuated yesterday afternoon.

In another incident handled by the Coast Guard's rescue coordination center in Norfolk, Va., two men were rescued Saturday from a sailboat 55 miles east of Cape Lookout, N.C., after nasty weather battered their sailboat.

Their 40-foot boat, At Ease, was caught in rough water after leaving Newport News, Va., on Thursday for a voyage to Charleston, S.C.

The vessel's owner, Robert Cummings, 40, of Newport News, and Jerry McCarthy, 35, of Charleston, S.C., were aboard the sailboat when it had engine problems and a wave knocked out a hatch.

The men told the Coast Guard that waves had rolled the boat and knocked them overboard at least twice.

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