Sailor Rescued From Disabled Boat off Columbia River Bar

A motor lifeboat crew conducts surf training at the Columbia River Bar, Astoria, Oregon (file image courtesy USCG)

Published Jan 5, 2020 11:23 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Friday, the U.S. Coast Guard rescued a man after his vessel lost power dangerously close to the surf near Peacock Spit, a shoal on the edge of the Columbia River Bar near Cape Disappointment, Washington.

The man contacted watchstanders at Coast Guard Station Cape Disappointment by cell phone at about 1425 hours. His sailboat had lost power and the mast had fallen, leaving the vessel adrift near the spit. 

Coast Guard Sector Columbia River watchstanders were notified and a motor life boat diverted from training operations nearby. An MH-65 Dolphin rescue helicopter crew from Coast Guard Sector North Bend was also transiting the area and diverted to help.

The aircrew first located the distressed vessel at 1535, and they initially intended to vector in the motor lifeboat crew for a boat-to-boat rescue. However, they revised their plan due to the conditions at the scene. The sailing vessel's mast had fallen, preventing the man from entering the cabin to avoid the harsh elements. Additionally, the vessel's loss of power and inability to maneuver provided reason enough for the aircrew to hoist the man from the vessel rather than wait for the motor lifeboat crew to arrive.

At 1600 hours, the helicopter's rescue swimmer deployed and helped hoist the man from the vessel. The aircrew transported the man to Air Station Astoria, and he arrived in healthy condition. Further work to recover the disabled vessel is set to take place as soon as weather conditions improve.