U.S. Coast Guard Station Humboldt Bay responded to a call Sept. 25 from a distressed sailboat 40 miles west of Klamath, rescuing three people and a Chihuahua-Jack Russel mix.
The craft Missfit had lost propulsion and was in danger of capsizing from heavy winds and waves higher than 15 feet. The crew of three people and a dog shut themselves inside the boat while they awaited help.
The Coast Guard sent two MH-65 Dolphin helicopters, each with a crew of four, to the rescue.
Originally, the Coast Guard considered towing the boat. But after talking with the ship’s captain, they realized the vessel did not have the equipment necessary to connect the towing machinery. The weather conditions also made towing problematic.
So, each helicopter hovered above the boat and lowered one man into the ocean, who then coaxed the boat’s crew into the water for lifting to the helicopters.
Since sailboats can become unstable in high winds, said one of the helicopters’ commanders, LCDR Derek Shramel, delivering a rescuer directly onto a boat can be dangerous, which is why its occupants needed to be in the water before being lifted to safety.
The Coast Guard crew deployed a data marker buoy to track the Missfit, although its location was lost. They believe it either sank or drifted off shore.
The Missfit’s crew recently had bought the vessel in Seattle and were sailing it to San Francisco when they encountered the high winds. Such winds are common for this area, said Shramel, but the sailors were not local and were unfamiliar with the weather conditions.