Windy weekend provides rescue opportunities

Winds as high as 55 mph caused boats to overturn, stranded kayakers and forced the cancellation of ferry runs Saturday.

North Whidbey Fire and Rescue participated in the rescue of two people whose sailboat capsized Saturday afternoon in Saratoga Passage.

At approximately 2:30 p.m., a 16-foot catamaran overturned, sending its two passengers overboard.

Fire Chief Marv Koorn said firefighters from Camano Island were called to respond to the capsized catamaran and eventually firefighters from Whidbey Island responded as well.

He said they tried to launch from Oak Harbor’s Windjammer Park, but the water in the area proved to be too rough. The firefighters eventually went to Mariner’s Cove to launch. By the time they were ready to go, the people thrown from the catamaran arrived at Mariner’s Cove, thanks to the Camano contingent of rescuers. Emergency personnel examined the two people and they were in good condition.

In another incident, firefighters were called to a de-masted catamaran in Cultus Bay on South Whidbey. The Coast Guard also dispatched a helicopter to respond. The two people had righted the vessel before emergency personnel arrived, according to a news release from the United States Coast Guard.

Then on Sunday, an unoccupied boat near Polnell Shores broke loose and was drifting. Koorn said firefighters tied down the boat.

The high winds also effected the ferry run serving Port Townsend and Keystone. Gale winds and high seas prompted officials to cancel the ferry run starting with the 8:30 p.m. sailing from Port Townsend. The Steilacoom II stayed out of service for the remainder of the evening, said Susan Harris, customer information manager for the ferry system. Traffic heading over to the Olympic Peninsula was diverted to the Edmonds/Kingston run.

In another incident Saturday, a Coast Guard cutter and a helicopter were diverted to the Carr Inlet near Gig Harbor to assist with the rescue of eight kayakers. The cutter’s crew rescued two of the kayakers while the remaining six were able to make it safely to shore.

The Coast Guard diverts many of its assets to recover drifting boats before they become a danger. The Coast Guard is asking local boat owners to properly secure their vessels or bring them onto shore when they’re not in use, according to the news release.

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