US Sailing Awards Hanson Rescue Medal to the Rescuing Crew on Disco Volante, Michael Margulis and Adam Murphy 

May 16, 2019

.US Sailing Awards Hanson Rescue Medal to the Rescuing Crew on Disco Volante, Michael Margulis and Adam Murphy 

The US Sailing Safety at Sea Committee will award the Arthur B. Hanson Rescue Medal to Six crew for their rescue nine people separated from their capsized powerboat. 

On July 26, 2017, Disco Volante, a Hanse 400 from the Sound Sailing Center was teaching an Advanced Coastal Cruising Class with four students and two instructors from Norwalk, CT on their way to Portland, ME. Windspeed was 20 knots with 4’ – 5’ waves, air temperature of 78 and water temperature of 68. At 4:40pm, approaching the Cape Cod Canal in Buzzards Bay, Co-Captain/Instructor Wim Jessup spotted an overturned 23’ Four Winns powerboat with many bodies in the water. He initiated a VHF channel 16 radio call. “Mayday, mayday, mayday there appear to be 11 people in the water over.” “One child is missing submerged under the vessel. Over.” There were twelve people from the powerboat, nine in the water separated from the boat, plus a mother and father clinging to the powerboat shouting that their child Harry O’Connor, age 8, was trapped underneath. 

 Disco Volante had just completed drills on rescuing people in the water earlier in the day. After dropping sails, and turning on their motor, Co-Captain/Instructor Martin van Breems and the four adult students Fred May, Mike McCormack, Brad Freeman, and Peter Kelly deployed their Lifesling encircling nine people, one adult and eight children ages 8 - 13 wearing lifejackets all grabbed onto the line, then shut down their engine. The crew of Disco Volante grabbed victim by victim by their wrists pulling them up onto their deck amidships. Some were shivering, crying, and one with asthma was hyperventilating. The victims were dried then wrapped in blankets by the crew. Disco Volante brought the victims to the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, and later continued their class after completing reports with the authorities. 

Meanwhile other responses came from the USCG 45’ boat, USCG MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter, Massachusetts Environmental Police, local Police, a commercial diver and recreational boaters, with the first arriving in four minutes while Disco Volante was making their rescues. 

Lieutenant Matthew Bass of the Massachusetts Environmental Police removed his black duty belt, donned swim goggles and dove into the water. Finding the low end of the boat deep in the water, and the waves churning, it was too rough to get underneath. Next he tied a line to the boat, passing it to Adam Murphy, Marion’s harbormaster, and they tried to pull the boat upright by towing it. But the mass of water in the boat was too much to overcome. 

Commercial Diver Michael Margulis was called to move in, donned his diving gear, dove in finding it dark inside the Four Winns and bumped into a pool noodle, empty life jacket, a shoe and then found young O’Connor in his lifejacket pinned against the floor in the bow section. He put O’Connor under one arm and swam to Bass’s boat. The underwater search took four minutes. This was Margulis first rescue. 

Meanwhile Bass and Murphy had pulled the mother and father aboard, when Margulis passed young O’Connor to them and they initiated CPR immediately. They raced to shore to Onset, MA, O’Connor was transferred to an ambulance taking him to local Tobey Hospital, and from there Medflighted to Boston Hospital. The best estimate was that O’Connor underwater for 24 minutes. Sadly, O’Connor did not survive. 

US Sailing is pleased to award the Arthur B. Hanson Rescue Medal to Wim Jessup, Martin van Breems, Fred May, Mike McCormack, Brad Freeman, and Peter Kelly for maintaining a lookout, coming to the aid of a capsized vessel, and the saving of nine souls. 

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. 

US Sailing Media Contact: Jake Fish, 

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


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