Coast Guard assists four stranded boaters

Coast Guard District 17 NewsANCHORAGE, Alaska – A Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak-based MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew rescued four stranded boaters from a cabin located more than six miles north of Egegik at 6:43 a.m. Wednesday.

Egegik residents Ben Chernikoff, boat owner and operator, Brian Olsen, Nick Hinzel and Pam Hinzel were found safe at a cabin four miles south of where their 26-foot boat had washed ashore. The men were 10 miles north of Egegik when they experienced a reported mechanical failure that left the boat disabled and adrift.

The men aboard the disabled boat called friends via VHF marine radio asking for a tow. However, due to rough seas the friends were unable to assist the four men and contacted the King Salmon Police for help. The Coast Guard began searching for the missing boaters at 9 p.m. after receiving a request for assistance from the King Salmon Police.

Two Kodiak helicopter crews and one HC-130 Hercules airplane crew searched through the night for the missing boaters. The boat was found by a helicopter crew on the beach north of Egegik at 12 a.m. with no sign of the boaters. A Coast Guard rescue swimmer inspected the vessel and found it in good condition with the boaters’ personal belongings still on board.

With multiple cabins noted in the area and a fish cannery located approximately four miles south of the beached boat, the rescue crews conducted shoreline searches for the missing boaters. The helicopter crew found the boaters at a nearby cabin, landed to pick up the men and flew them to Egegik arriving safely at 7 a.m.

“The boaters were able to safely ride their disabled vessel to shore and find shelter in a nearby cabin; however, this case could have had a tragic end as they did not have life jackets or other safety equipment on board the vessel,” said Lt. j.g. Edward Michno, a District 17 search and rescue controller. “We encourage all boaters to plan for Alaska’s often extreme weather by maintaining essential safety equipment on board their vessel and to always wear a life jacket. It is the law that a life jacket is available for every adult aboard a boat and any child under 13 must always wear a life jacket while the boat is underway.”

The four boaters were transferring their new 26-foot boat from Naknek to Egegik when they reportedly suffered mechanical issues that left the vessel disabled and adrift.

No signs of pollution have been reported. Chernikoff will be responsible for making arrangements to salvage the grounded boat.

Weather in the area was reported at seas of more than six feet, and winds of more than 20 mph.

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