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Christmas Rescue: Four Saved From Remote Alaskan Island

Sitka rescue
Images and video courtesy USCG

Published Dec 25, 2020 1:36 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Christmas morning, the U.S. Coast Guard rescued four boaters from the Yamani Islets, just off the west coast of Baranof Island in Southeast Alaska.

The Sector Juneau command center received a notice from a friend of the missing party at about 2300 hours on Christmas Eve, and they reported an overdue vessel. Sector watchstanders directed the launch of a helicopter aircrew from Air Station Sitka and the crew of Coast Guard Cutter Bailey Barco. 

During their search, the aircrew received a distress call over VHF at the entrance of Necker Bay, on Baranof Island's Pacific coast. They were able to make contact with the boaters and confirmed that they had all made it ashore after their vessel capsized. The temperature at the scene was 35 degrees, with 10 mph winds - conditions that would place survivors of a capsize at risk of hypothermia.

The Jayhawk helicopter crew hoisted the four boaters - a 50-year-old woman and her three children aged 21, 17, and 13 - from shore after their 15-foot vessel capsized. The aircrew transported them to Coast Guard Air Station Sitka, and they are reported to be in stable condition.

“We want to stress the importance of letting people know where you are going on the water and carrying multiple forms of communication,” said Scott Cichoracki Sector Juneau command center watchstander. “In this case, we were able to find out from their friends where they were going, and having the handheld radio to talk to the helo when it flew over them helped this family get rescued.”