Coast Guard rescues mariners who abandoned ship off Washington Coast

47 Quillayute RiverWARRENTON, Ore. — The Coast Guard urges boaters to be prepared and stay safe for another wave of storms after two sailing incidents occurred last night forcing four people to abandon ship off the Washington coast in over 20-foot seas and winds gusting up to 50 mph.

In both cases the people on board were able to don survival suits and get into the water where they were picked up by Coast Guard Station Grays Harbor and Coast Guard Station Quillayute River crewmembers.

Three people aboard the 45-foot sailing vessel Soteria were transported by Station Quillette River and Station Grays Harbor to Neah Bay, Washington, due to the Quillette River bar being closed.  The other person aboard the 39-foot sailing vessel Grace was transported back to Grays Harbor. All persons involved in these cases are reported to be in good health.

In the first case, Coast Guard Sector Columbia River watchstanders received a report of the 45-foot sailing vessel Soteria, with three people aboard, taking on water 40 miles northwest of Grays Harbor. The watchstanders directed the launch of a Coast Guard Air Station Astoria MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew and a Coast Guard Station Grays Harbor 47-foot motor life boat crew. Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound watchstanders also directed the launch of a Coast Guard Station Quillayute River 47-foot motor life boat crew.

Because the Soteria was not outfitted with proper safety gear, the Air Station Astoria helicopter crew was forced to depart the scene and return with survival suits to lower to the Coast Guard boat crews.

The Soteria was abandoned and is now adrift along the north coast of Washington State. A Broadcast Notice to Mariners has been issued for safety of vessels in the area.

In the second case, Coast Guard Sector Columbia River watchstanders received a report of the 39-foot sailing vessel Grace beset by weather and disoriented 21 miles offshore from Willapa Bay, Washington. Coast Guard Station Grays Harbor crewmembers were able to orient the boater and directed him to sail towards safe harbor and stay on a communications schedule. During the transit the vessel became de-masted and could no longer navigate

Because of the weather, Coast Guard personnel decided the safest course of action would be for the operator of the Grace to anchor, don a survival suit and abandon ship. The 52-foor motor life boat Triumph from Station Grays Harbor launched in response. Once on scene, a Coast Guard surface swimmer rescued the operator of the Grace from the water.

“Both of these cases illustrate how extremely important it is to not only check weather conditions before you go out, but to also have the proper safety gear on your vessel,” said Lt. J.g. Isaac Yates of Sector Columbia Center’s Command Center. “At a minimum, people operating on the open ocean should have proper life jackets, immersion suits, a form of communication such as  a VHF radio, signaling devices and an electronic position indicating beacon. Given the real potential for injury or death in these situations, we are all very fortunate to have met such a positive outcome.”

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