Coast Guard rescue swimmer helps save sailors at Deception Pass
By NATHAN WHALEN
Whidbey News Times Staff reporter
February 14, 2011 · Updated 10:23 AM
Personnel from three agencies helped rescue a couple of stranded boaters from the rough waters of Deception Pass Monday morning, Feb. 7.
At approximately 7 a.m., two Whidbey Island residents were on a 27-foot sailboat trying to pilot the boat through Deception Pass when the engine failed and it started drifting back out to sea, said Jack Hartt, ranger at Deception Pass State Park.
Once the boat's engine failed, the couple dialed 911 and personnel from the state park, North Whidbey Fire and Rescue and the United States Coast Guard responded.
Hartt said the boat was sailing east through Deception Pass, but the high winds and heavy seas proved too difficult for the underpowered sailboat to maneuver.
"The tide was going against them," Hartt said. The problem to the motor happened after it appeared a dinghy broke loose. The wind appeared to be gusting as high as 30 knots, he said.
A rescue swimmer dived into the water from a United States Coast Guard helicopter. The swimmer boarded a boat to help tie a tow line to the rescue boat manned by firefighters from North Whidbey Fire and Rescue.
"There was no way we could get them off the boat," Hartt said.
The sailboat was towed to Bowman Bay on Fidalgo Island and nobody was injured, although the nerves of the two people on board were frayed.
"It was probably an hours worth of white knuckles," Hartt said.Contact Whidbey News Times Staff reporter Nathan Whalen at email@example.com or 360-675-6611 ext. 5058.