Jayhawk crew wows shoreline audience with mock rescue

Saturday's demonstration was part of Sail MV's Vineyard Cup.


The U.S. Coast Guard put on a hoisting demonstration in Vineyard Haven Harbor Saturday evening with its signature search and rescue aircraft, the Sikorsky MH-60T Jayhawk helicopter.

Spectators packed the docks at Martha’s Vineyard Shipyard as the Jayhawk wheeled over the harbor, descended, and churned up spray with its rotors. Out went an orange dummy, and soon after, a rescue swimmer plunged into the harbor after it. The Jayhawk swept off, then returned to the swimmer and lowered a Stokes basket. Up went the dummy, then the swimmer in a harness, and the Jayhawk soared off over Tashmoo and disappeared on the horizon as the audience clapped.

The harbor closed at 5:10 pm to accommodate the demonstration. A patrol boat from the Tisbury harbormaster’s office and response boat from Station Woods Hole guarded the entrance to the harbor thereafter. Slated for 5:15 pm, the demonstration didn’t start until about 5:50. The Jayhawk intended for the demonstration got sidelined at Air Station Cape Cod due to a mechanical problem, so it took a little time for another helicopter to be dispatched, according to Chief Robert Parent, executive officer at Station Menemsha. Via a microphone, Parent provided commentary for the audience at Martha’s Vineyard Shipyard.

The late start held up the MV Governor freight ferry for a short while. It waited just outside the breakwater for about 10 minutes as the Jayhawk whirled in front of it. Passengers onboard had a front-row seat to the action.

The Jayhawk hoisting exercise was held as part of the Vineyard Cup, Sail MV’s annual weekend of boat racing and maritime appreciation.