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Coupeville man stranded at sea rescued
A Coupeville man was rescued from his sailboat Monday after being stranded aboard the vessel for more than a day.
Peter Driftmeyer, 46, said he has been living on his boat for about five years. Moored about 100 yards out from the Coupeville boat launch on NE Ninth Street, the man uses a small skiff to travel to and from shore.
However, large waves in Penn Cove Saturday evening caused the small craft to come free. With no phone and the larger boat’s sails and motor not functional, Driftmeyer spent all of Sunday stranded. By Monday morning, he began waving his arms in the hopes of flagging down a ride from a passing fisherman.
“I had to get someone’s attention,” Driftmeyer said.
Well, someone did notice, but it was no fisherman. According to Coupeville Deputy Marshal Adrian Kuschnereit, a nearby resident saw Driftmeyer’s motions for aid and reported it at Town Hall.
“Everybody kinda knows him and a few try and check up on him,” Kuschnereit said.
Driftmeyer is often seen walking through town and is easily recognizable by his beard and backpack.
The call for a marine rescue went out over the air waves, hitting the radios of emergency responders across Central Whidbey, and it wasn’t long before the parking lot was a hub of activity.
Kuschnereit, a Whidbey General Hospital ambulance crew, and firefighters from Central Whidbey Fire and Rescue, with one fire engine and a rescue truck pulling the department’s boat, all responded to the call.
“All of a sudden, all these flashing lights were in the parking lot,” Driftmeyer said.
A few minutes later, the stranded live-aboard was safely on land having been picked up by the department’s rescue boat. While grateful for the assistance, Driftmeyer said he was a little worried those flashing lights would turn into dollar signs. He was relieved to learn that the fire department does not send out bills to rescue victims.
“It’s such a nice service to have,” Driftmeyer said. “They have your back.”
This is the second time Driftmeyer has been rescued from his sailboat. About two years ago, his boat came free of its mooring and was in danger of running aground at the head of Penn Cove with him aboard.
At that time, a U.S. Coast Guard vessel was dispatched but a work boat from the mussel farm arrived first and towed Driftmeyer and his boat to the Coupeville Wharf.