MCKINLEYVILLE, Calif. – The Coast Guard rescued two sailors from a fishing boat near Cape Mendocino Thursday afternoon.
At approximately 8:45 a.m., the Coast Guard received a distress call from the 34-foot fishing vessel Oregon 350 stating that they had encountered a large wave and had sustained damage to the vessel.
The master of the fishing vessel reported that he had lost some gear over the side and most of his electronic equipment had failed after the encounter with the wave. He was unable to go below to check for damage because the other crewmember, his son, was extremely seasick, and there was no one else aboard to mind the helm.
Coast Guard Group Humboldt Bay prepared to launch a helicopter and a rescue boat to Cape Mendocino when the captain radioed that there was no other significant damage from the wave. The Coast Guard communications center instructed the mariner, now navigating with a hand-held GPS from his car, to radio the Coast Guard every 15 minutes to update his vessel’s position and the condition of the boat and crew.
At approximately 1:30 p.m., the master of the vessel radioed the Coast Guard and reported that his son’s condition was deteriorating. After consulting with the Coast Guard flight surgeon, a physician, Coast Guard Air Station Humboldt Bay diverted an airborne MH-65C Dolphin helicopter to the scene from a routine patrol.
The aircraft arrived overhead the fishing vessel at 2:10 p.m. The helicopter lowered its rescue swimmer down to the deck to further assess the condition of the deckhand. The aircraft then lowered the rescue basket to the deck of the fishing boat and hoisted the man into the helicopter. After the mariner was safely aboard the aircraft, the helicopter hoisted the rescue swimmer back into the aircraft cabin and proceeded to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Eureka where the crew transferred the man to urgent care personnel at 3:10 p.m.
The fishing vessel’s operator attempted to navigate the vessel towards Humboldt Bay, but reported heavy seas overcame his vessel causing it to capsize twice. The Coast Guard then launched another Dolphin helicopter to the location of the fishing vessel and successfully hoisted the vessel operator.
The second man was also transported to St. Joseph’s Hospital.
The Coast Guard recommends that all mariners pay close attention to weather and sea conditions off of the rugged Lost Coast of California, as conditions are often treacherous and can change with little notice. The Coast Guard also recommends that mariners equip their vessels with backup communications and navigation equipment for use in emergencies.