Coast Guard Station Bodega Bay assists disabled boaters off Fort Ross

SAN FRANCISCO — The Coast Guard command center in San Francisco received a distress call via 911-relay from the California Highway Patrol about a 19-foot vessel adrift with no propulsion approximately a mile offshore, south of Fort Ross, with three people aboard Tuesday.

A rescue boat from Coast Guard Station Bodega Bay was launched as was a helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station San Francisco. The command center then lost communication with the distressed vessel’s cell phone. Unfortunately, the vessel was not equipped with other means of communication or visual distress signaling devices. Prior to the loss of communications, the vessel reported minimal winds and seas and reduced visibility due to fog. Station Bodega Bay arrived on scene and safely towed the disabled vessel back to Bodega Bay.

Though cell phones are better than no communication devices at all, boaters who rely on cell phones for communicating distress can experience gaps in coverage and limited battery life while on the water.

“We advise all boaters to have a properly operating VHF-FM radio onboard their vessel, and monitor channel 16 for safety advisories and requests for assistance,” said Cmdr. Matt Thompson, search-and-rescue mission coordinator for Coast Guard Sector San Francisco. “Additionally, boaters are advised to wear life jackets when on the water and warm clothing when operating in the cold waters of Northern California.”

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