USCG Rescues Sailboat in a Gale off Newport

Published Oct 18, 2019 1:47 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Wednesday, U.S. Coast Guard boat crews rescued five people from a disabled sailbout about 20 nm off the coast of Newport, Oregon. 

At about 0515 hours, watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector North Bend received a distress call from a 50-foot sailboat. The crew reported that they were struggling to make way to safe harbor and were unsure if they could cross the bar. A National Weather Service gale warning was in effect for Oregon and Washington coastal waters, and weather on scene was reported as 10-20 foot swells and 35-40 knot winds. 

At 0730 hours, a boatcrew aboard a motor lifeboat from Coast Guard Station Depoe Bay arrived on scene and took the sailboat in tow. The crew towed the vessel to a position about two miles west of the Yaquina Bay entrance, where they met with two other lifeboat crews from Coast Guard Station Yaquina Bay. Based on the conditions on scene, the rescue boat crews decided it would be best for the five passengers to don their survival suits and abandon ship into the water in order to make the transfer to a motor lifeboat. One of the Yaquina Bay lifeboats picked them up immediately, then brought them to shore in Newport. No injuries or medical difficulties were reported. 

The yacht was brought across the bar and moored in Newport at 1730 hours. 

In foul weather, the Yaquina Bay bar crossing is notoriously dangerous for inbound boats, as powerful following swells raise the risk of broaching and capsizing. More than a few experienced fishermen have lost their lives attempting the passage. In January, three fishermen died when the fishing vessel Mary B II capsized on rocky shoals in an area just north of the bar crossing's jetty.