Coast Guard rescues disoriented, first-time ocean kayaker

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine – The Coast Guard rescued a kayaker Thursday night from Burnt Porcupine Island, Maine, after he apparently became disoriented during his first ocean-kayaking trip.

Jason Munley, 31, of Pittsburgh, usually kayaked on rivers, but set out on the ocean Thursday for a 10.5 mile trip from Hancock Point, Maine, to Bar Harbor, Maine.

After he didn’t arrive in Bar Harbor when expected at 6:30 p.m., a group of friends he was camping with in a local cottage became concerned and started looking for him on the shore in Bar Harbor. Around 10 p.m., they flagged down and notified a 47-foot motor lifeboat crew from Coast Guard Station Southwest Harbor, who happened to be in the area on a routine patrol.

Munley was wearing a life jacket and was carrying a light, but had no means of communication and was not carrying any food or water.

The motor lifeboat crew and a 41-foot utility boat crew, also from Station Southwest Harbor, immediately began searching for Munley. The First District Command Center in Boston also dispatched a helicopter from Air Station Cape Cod, Mass. Additionally, the Bar Harbor Police Department and the Rockport, Maine, harbormaster assisted in the search.

The motor lifeboat crew spotted Munley’s light near Burnt Porcupine Island around 11:30 p.m., but couldn’t get the boat close enough to rescue him, so the helicopter crew flew in and hoisted him from the island.

The helicopter crew took Munley, who was not injured, to Bar Harbor Airport where a friend picked him up.

“We’re all really relieved that he’s safe and that his friends knew where to look,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Tim Sperry, of the Sector Northern New England Command Center. “We encourage every mariner to always wear a life jacket and leave a float plan with someone on shore, but it’s just as important to have a means of communication with you. If something goes wrong and you don’t have a way to let anyone know, no one may realize you’re in trouble until it’s too late.”

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