Coast Guard assists fishing vessel taking on water, warns boaters of heavy winds

SAN FRANCISCO – The Coast Guard assisted in a rescue of a 17-foot fishing vessel taking on water one and a half miles off the shore of Half Moon Bay with one man aboard Saturday morning.

At approximately 10 a.m., Coast Guard Sector San Francisco was notified by San Mateo County Dispatch of a 17-foot fishing vessel taking on water off the shore of Half Moon Bay.

Upon recieving the report, Sector San Francisco issued an urgent marine information broadcast and immediately launched an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Air Station San Francisco and a 47-foot motor lifeboat from Station Golden Gate. Personnel from San Mateo County Sheriff’s office, California State Parks, and Pillar Point Harbor Master also assisted in the search and rescue.

There were several challenges that the responding assets had to overcome to successfully execute this search and rescue case. The challenges included language barriers, heavy weather, and the vessel operator’s lack of knowledge and inability to use the VHF radio, emergency position indicating radio beacon, or flares.

Sector San Francisco was able to contact the vessel operator’s son and request that he contact his father via his cell phone to provide him instructions on launching a flare. At approximately 11 a.m., the helicopter sighted the flare and located the vessel. The helicopter deployed its rescue swimmer who was able to get the vessel’s flooding under control and ensure the safety of the man aboard the boat.

Shortly afterward a rescue crew from Station Golden Gate arrived on scene and safely towed the vessel to Half Moon Bay.

Due to the onset of gale force wind advisories, the Coast Guard urges boaters to stay off the water or exercise extreme caution when operating on the water. Gale force winds are forecasted for coastal offshore waters throughout the area and small craft advisories remain in effect within the San Francisco, San Pablo, and Suisun Bay.

Coast guard encourages the public to exercise caution around beaches. Even the best swimmers can fall victim to the strong waves and rip currents caused by heavy weather.

For more information on current weather, visit the NOAA National Weather Service Web site at http://www.nws.noaa.gov/.

With the summer season bringing more recreational boaters to the waters, mariners should take the time to prepare their vessels and educate themselves on safe boating practices; this includes being knowledgeable on the proper operation of safety equipment.

This incident serves as a reminder to the boating public to ensure there is a life jacket available for every person onboard the vessel and to wear life jackets while underway, regardless of the weather conditions. Members of the boating public are reminded to reduce risk factors, file a float plan with a friend or family member and have a working VHF-FM radio and EPIRB on board. Doing these simple tasks could save your live or the life of your passengers.

The Coast Guard would also like to remind commercial mariners to ensure they have all necessary safety equipment onboard to include a VHF radio, EPIRB, flares and survival suits.

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