US Sailing Awards Hanson Rescue Medal to Sailors for Saving Three in Buzzards Bay

The Arthur B. Hanson Rescue Medal is awarded for bravery on the waterways.

Left to Right: Michael Moreland, Sheila McCurdy

PORTSMOUTH, RI (February 29, 2016) – The US Sailing Safety at Sea Committee awarded the Arthur B. Hanson Rescue Medal to Martha Seabury, a new wooden schooner, whose sailors rescued three individuals from a capsized sailboat in Buzzards Bay on September 10, 2012.

While on its maiden voyage at the darker side of dusk at 7:30 pm, deckhand Allison Phillips spotted a 15-foot capsized sailboat with three people clinging to it and waving their arms for attention in an attempt to be spotted for rescue.

With winds approximated at 23 mph and seas at two to three feet high, Captain Michael Moreland ordered the sails to be dropped, and with the engine running they came alongside the stricken sailors. Two victims were wearing PFDs and one was not.

“On a small boat like Martha Seabury, everyone is a lookout whenever on deck,” said Moreland. “Information is passed along without hesitation whether it be spotting a bouy, another ship in close proximity, or in this case an unidentified object in the distance which upon examination with binoculars turned out to be three individuals in the water.”

The victims, in their 20s, swam to Martha Seabury and were hauled aboard. Each showed signs of hypothermia, were vomiting seawater and barely responsive.

“We also learned first hand what hypothermia looks like and our training kicked in right away,” added Moreland. “Getting the victims stabilized was our first priority and that did mean delaying the transfer to the USCG boat, but it was our decision that getting them stabilized where they were was paramount.”

Phillips took the victims into the cabin, changed their clothes and wrapped them in dry gear and sleeping bags. Simultaneously, Chief Mate Paul Bracken called the US Coast Guard who deployed their cutter and asked Martha Seabury to sail towards them.

Around 10:15 pm the Coast Guard cutter and Martha Seabury met. The Coast Guard wanted to tie alongside Martha Seabury to make the transfers but Moreland and crew determined it was too dangerous in the seas. The Coast Guard agreed and transferred their medic onto Martha Seabury.

The medic concluded that the victims’ conditions had stabilized. Both boats headed to the lee of a reef and made the transfer in calmer waters at 10:40 pm.

For maintaining a watch leading to the rescue, for rescuing three sailors, and providing the necessary medical attention, US Sailing is honored to award the Arthur B. Hanson Rescue Medal to Capt. Michael Moreland, Billy “Ollie” Campbell (owner), Paul Bracken, Allison “Ali” Phillips, Gabe St. Denis, Dan Rutherford and Oliver Cote.

“The crew responded perfectly and without hesitation, but that was of no surprise to me as we were an exceptional crew that had just sailed around the world,” said Moreland. “We are all very grateful that we were so lucky to be where we were to rescue those people and glad that it all worked out so well.”

The medal was presented to Captain Michael Moreland at the American Schooner Association Annual Meeting on February 20, 2016 in Mystic, Conn. to an audience of nearly 100 attendees by US Sailing Board Member and Safety at Sea Committee Member Sheila McCurdy.

The Arthur B. Hanson Rescue Medal is awarded to any person who rescues or endeavors to rescue any other person from drowning, shipwreck, or other perils at sea within the territorial waters of the United States, or as part of a sailboat race or voyage that originated or stopped in the U.S. The medal was established in 1990 by friends of the late Mr. Hanson, an ocean-racing sailor from the Chesapeake Bay, with the purpose of recognizing significant accomplishments in seamanship and collecting case studies of rescues for analysis by the Safety at Sea Committee of US Sailing for use in educational and training programs. Any individual or organization may submit a nomination for a Hanson Rescue Medal.

Visit the US Sailing Hanson Rescue Medal website for more information about these awards, including nomination form instructions and guidelines.

Contact: Jake Fish, US Sailing Communications Manager,

This rescue report was authored by the US Sailing Safety at Sea Committee.

About US Sailing
The United States Sailing Association (US Sailing), the national governing body for sailing, provides leadership, integrity, and growth for the sport in the United States. Founded in 1897 and headquartered in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, US Sailing is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization. US Sailing offers training and education programs for instructors and race officials, supports a wide range of sailing organizations and communities, issues offshore rating certificates, and provides administration and oversight of competitive sailing across the country, including National Championships and the US Sailing Team Sperry. For more information, please visit